Between Promise and Sadness Poems by Joanne Townsend
Former Alaska Poet Laureate, Joanne Townsend, had a naturalist’s eye and a poet’s ability to convey her emotions and love of nature. Her poems speak of pleasure as well as the sorrow of losing of her only son. When Joanne died, only a large unsorted pile of poems in hard copy was found. Her friends and colleagues in Las Cruces, New Mexico: Ellen Roberts Young, Christine Eber and Joseph Somoza, with assistance from Peter Goodman, F. Richard Thomas and Frank Varela composed this book. Joanne Townsend's posthumous collection, Promise and Sadness, is a tribute to her life and legacy.
"When Joanne Townsend and I were introduced (by a poet, of course) over 45 years ago, we hit it off right away. After all, we had many things in common: a history with the Atlantic seaboard, raising sons, a reverence for history, flower gardening. But the most important thing we shared was a belief that poetry is a necessary component of civilization. Further, we weren't kidding around: each of us was deeply committed to writing the best poetry she could. In particular, Joanne focused on helping the elderly struggling to express themselves.
Her departure has left a big gap in my universe."
— Ann Chandonnet, author of Baby Abe: A Lullaby for Lincoln
"I didn't know Joanne Townsend well during the decades when she lived in Alaska, and if you know me at all that will not come as a surprise. Now, after reading her Between Promise and Sadness I wish I had. She had a naturalists' eye and a poet's ability to convey what she saw and felt to the reader. She knew joy and more than her share of suffering, including the death of her only son, but in the end, hers is a joyful voice, a kind and understanding one. As much as I admire her "nature" poems from her time in Alaska and her final decades in New Mexico, her cactus and lupine poems, it's her poems about growing up in an immigrant section of Boston that I will read again and again with envy and appreciation."
— Tom Sexton, author of For the Sake of the Light; New and Selected Poems, Li Bai Rides a Celestial Dolphin Home, and Cummiskey Alley: New and Selected Lowell Poems
"One of Joanne Townsend's lines, "from a life less clear," could have served as title. Juxtaposing Alaska and New Mexico, and different eras from her life, she sets us somewhere with concrete and evocative details, then shares her wonderfully pensive later reflections on people, places, and experiences. I like her mix of savoring the moment but also holding it and letting it grow and change in memory; her joy and her candor."
— Peter Goodman, Columnist for the Las Cruces Sun-News and the blog "Views from Soledad Canyon".
About Joanne Townsend
Joanne Townsend was named Poet Laureate for Alaska by the state legislature in 1988. Collection description: The collection consists of papers regarding Joanne Townsend’s work as a poet and her relations with other Alaskan authors.