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Jane McPhetres Johnson, a Salida-native writer, will read from her new book Maven Reaches Mars at 5:30 p.m. on August 27 at the Salida Regional library. Johnson was born at the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Hospital, while her dad was teaching at Salida High School. She now lives in Massachusetts.

Jane graduated from UNC in Greeley, then completed a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in poetry from Goddard College in Vermont, while raising two sons in Sheridan, Wyoming. Her poems have been published in e-magazines and journals both online and in print. Maven is her first collection, a life’s work completed during the pandemic.

Maven Reaches Mars:  Home Poems and Space Probes in Four Fascicles is a collection of poems presented as an imaginary four-stage journey through time and space. It begins with memories and images from an idyllic Colorado childhood, her “launchpad.” The voyage ends in a very different place, a world changed, so much that it can feel like Mars.

The aging process can be disorienting for everyone, but this writer takes on a bigger  sensibility. Her poems reach the conclusion that her own lifespan and that of humanity itself appear to be following the same trajectory.

A dark prospect indeed, but Maven manages to present harsh reality with wry humor and warmth in poems that use traditional forms and poetic elements of rhyme and rhythm alongside free verse. One nugget is for her mother, who also taught at Salida High School:


Up early, she did the work

she’d always done.

I dreamed those sounds


but what woke me

was the loving, slow

so quiet

closing of my door.