SIBA book award winner   
A House of Branches

poems by Janisse Ray

A House of Branches    Janisse Ray

A House of Branches is available from your local bookstore, from on-line vendors such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or from the publisher.

   New Southerner

A House of Branches
ISBN 978-1-936138-21-0
101 pages, $14.00

Wind Publications
600 Overbrook Dr
Nicholasville KY 40356


Before she became the acclaimed author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Wild Card Quilt and Pinhook, Janisse Ray was a poet, a calling she has never abandoned. Nor has it abandoned her. How heartening, therefore, to see her first love given its full-throated voice in A House of Branches! These poems are about waking up, looking around at the world, and discovering how to live within it . . . how to gather and cherish the things of this world.
— Kathryn Stripling Byer, author of Catching Light and Black Shawl, and poet laureate of North Carolina, 2005-09

The voice familiar to lovers of Ray’s nonfiction is here – clear eyed and questing and newly charged with lovely lyricism that honors the natural world and the wisdom she finds in it. It is a pleasure to share this journey and be enlarged by it.
— Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Unmentionables

As if Basho had awoken from a long sleep and began, again, to write, Janisse Ray in this long-anticipated first major collection of poems takes the reader on a walkabout across the American landscape with a voice as diverse as the birds in the forest in a series of mantras, hymns and exhortations with as much detail embedded in accessibly rich, loamy metaphor as a field guide. 
— Thomas Rain Crowe, author of Zoro’s Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods and The End of Eden: Writings of an Environmental Activist

Janisse Ray’s poems return us in rapture and mourning to the natural world’s drenched and teeming yet imperiled beauty. . . . A House of Branches is an unforgettable work by one of America’s preeminent environmental writers. 
— Ann Fisher-Wirth, author of Five Terraces and Carta Marina


From the book ---

Questions to a Grasshopper
Grasshopper, do you have a husband
waiting for you at home, under some sumac
roof? Or a son who yet needs you?
In the grasshopper bank, is your account
low? Is the Times waiting on an article
that you must squeak up out of your armored
head and from what you have deciphered
with those waving wands?
Is the rent due on your leaf, and do you
have to pay somebody for the water that falls free
from the sky? To whom do you owe your food?
Are you paying for grasshopper roads and
grasshopper schools and grasshopper hospitals
and grasshopper police and some kind of insect
library filled with wondrous leafy scrolls?
Do you have a president? Are you asked
to fight, to kill your own? Must you pay for it?
Or are you free, as you seem, to go 
bursting through stalks of dry grasses,
among strawberry leaves and yarrow,
curious and flippant, without direction,
unwary, obligated to nothing?