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"Rain and sunsets and people trying to teach us to live our lives"

Posted Oct. 9, 2012

 Poet Jeanne Bryner reads from Smoke: Poems

Poet and Nurse Jeanne Bryner Bryner will speak and read from her newest book of poetry Smoke: Poems at Kent State University East Liverpool Campus at 6:30 pm and at Java Joe’s Coffee House at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 17, 2012. These two readings are open to the public. Bryner will also speak to and read her poetry during several classes at Kent State University at East Liverpool.

Bryner writes of her poetry and fiction in Nantahala Review:

“My challenge is to find a way to harvest moments of grace and build a story or poem around them, for I believe rain and sunsets and people are trying to teach us how we can live our lives better. The heart has many doors and writers two or three keys. A writer takes us by the hand to see the windows of a madhouse, a mansion, or a mud hut. If she is good, she will let her readers fall in love, if she is really good, she will let them fall in mud. Maybe it’s all the same. In the mouths of her characters, she bends and twists the rules of language. She lets her people wrestle questions that may not have an answer. Entire families appear on her page dressed in the holy shoes of beauty, carrying a gunnysack of truth.”

Smoke: Poems by Jeanne BrynerThe poems in Smoke are poems about nursing, caring, healing, and suffering. Author/Nurse Cortney Davis writes the “poems. . . reveal her to be an angel of mercy not only in her work with patients but also in her ability to create poems that comfort and guide us as we face universal fears: sickness, personal and societal abuse, family tragedy, physical pain and emotional longing.” “Her poems did deep,” Davis says, “reaching what Emily Dickinson called the zero at the bone.”

Bryner’s other works, both poetry and prose, have been celebrated. Her book of poetry No Matter How Many Windows (Wind Publications, 2010) won the 2011 Tillie Olson Prize from the Working-Class Studies Association. Intensive Care, a play based on some of the portraits in her book about nurses, Tenderly Lift Me (Kent State University Press, 2004), a celebration of nurses and their lives, has had international productions. Bryner also made Blind Horse (Bottom Dog Press, 1999), a story of the out-migration from Appalachia into a play that has been performed in many states. Eclipse: Stories examines incidents in the lives of the deftly written characters with compassion and understanding.

Bryner was the winner of the Wick Poetry Program Chapbook Series with Breathless in 1995. She received an Ohio Arts Council/Vermont Studio Center residency in 2009.

Bryner is generous with her time and her emotions, sharing stories and discussing writing with students. She has provided students insight into both writing and nursing in visits to KSUEL over the years, and she has discussed the importance of writing to surviving the difficult career of nursing.

For more information about Bryner’s visit, contact Dr. Patti Swartz (