Traffic Stop contains some of my best poems written from the 1970s to 2009. Themes include being an assertive nontraditional woman, having close relationships, teaching college English and women's studies, loving nature, traveling, being involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement, mourning my father's death, being an artist/entertainer/writer, and experiencing folk music at different stages of my life.
Janet gives an overview of the book:
Getting My Mouth Washed Out
Once my grandmother got very angry
when I argued with her.
I was a five year old
who did not know her place.
So she told me to open my mouth
and then she put a bar of soap inside.
Forty-six years later,
I still rememberthat awful taste.
But I didn’t stop arguing
with her or anyone else.
I’ve argued with teachers, parents,
rabbis, politicians, and bosses
if they try to limit my freedom
or curtail other people’s rights.
I’ve lived long enough
to see some reforms.
So here’s my advice
to other rebellious kids:
if someone threatens you
with a bar of soap,
keep talking so fast
that no one can ever wedge
a stopper in your mouth.
(Copyright 2009 in the Michigan Reading Journal)
Janet Ruth Heller is a poet, literary critic, college professor, essayist, playwright, and fiction writer. I am a past president of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, and I am currently president of the Michigan College English Association. I have a Ph.D. in...