In 1793 Benjamin Rush, a U.S. founding father and signer of the Declaration of Independence proposed the plan of a Peace-Office of the United States. In 1935 Senator Matthew M. Neely introduced the first bill calling for the creation of a United States Department of Peace. Similar bills have been introduced into the legislature—the latest: The Department of Peace Act of 2011, reintroduced in 2013.
Reviews of After Effects:
“By delving into the past in her new chapbook, After Effects, poet, Judith Janoo, brings the reader from the depths of despair, caused by war, into the hope for peace. ‘.…like the memory/you didn’t know/ what to do with….’ from her poem, ‘What You Passed On…’
The poet engages the reader with poetic empathy and visual reality. ‘….the suffering of a gentle/man made infantry man…’ then leads us generations forward to a peace march, where a granddaughter reminds us in the final poem, ‘Take to the Streets, February 15, 2003 ‘….it isn’t dangerous/to walk only to not say a word.’ Take the journey from war to the quest for peace in this elegant collection.”
—Dianalee Velie, Poet, and author of five collections, most recently, Ever After.
“In the very particular, Judith Janoo finds and reveals the universal: In her hands, battles that have wounded the ones we love echo the pain and fear of larger violence. In After Effects, she tugs at the details of a hay barn's rafters, the "butterfly magnets" of pink blossoms, the whisper of fabric against wood. With precise and open language, she invites the reader into the family dance of anger, blame, and yet somehow enduring love. I know I will be re-reading her poems, many times, to treasure their flavor, fragrance, and tears.”
—Beth Kanell, Vermont poet and novelist, author of most recently, The Long Shadow
“The poetry of Judith Janoo’s After Effects speaks within the silent spaces she has so compassionately provided as we are left to contemplate, in safety, our own histories.
Sounds echo like images she catches in countless mirrors… “fishermen, farmers, teachers, turned soldiers, turned onto beaches of gunfire: foot soldiers fog blinded…Souls crying for leaders.” I am certain that Ms. Janoo and I have marched together—Fifth, Main & Pennsylvania. Judith Janoo’s geographies travel from Normandy nightmares, beyond Baghdad, to Buddleia laden with butterflies blooming in the absence of War. Judith Janoo teaches Peace to her daughter through the courage of her words, and in gratitude, to all who shall accompany her.”
—Peggy Sapphire, poet and author of A Possible Explanation, In the End a Circle, and The Disenfranchised: Stories of Life and Grief When An Ex-Spouse Dies.
Review of After Effects in Rain Taxi
by George Longenecker
Judith Janoo’s poems in After Effects are deeply personal, and at the same time historical and political. The effects of war on a soldier and his family run through these narratives, with language that speaks to personal loss. These are poems rooted in the earth and the natural world, poems which will resonate with readers. The book is in two sections: “The Department of War” and “The Department of Peace.”
In the first section, the poem “What You Passed On” speaks directly to the poet’s father and shows the complexity of his character, from fishing to literature to war mementos:
You left us:
your bronze medal,
an American flag,
your army green cap.
These reminders of war are a stark contrast to his other interests and abilities, such as “how to graft/ fruit trees, transplant a cedar . . .” Not surprisingly, the father figures prominently in many of these poems, but it is how he affected the daughter that is at stake:
And the man I knew who made it
up the bluff if Omaha Beach,
never really cleared the beaches
of gunfire. Nights, his bottle
half empty, he aired
the start of it and I’d listen,
then hear him pace the hall
outside my room . . .
Janoo’s precise descriptions and sense of place make these poems all the more poignant, as in “Moon Slide”:
My mother sometimes rides with me
down the old oak banister,
our shadows moon-sewn
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I was sure I could fly,
that one day I’d take us above
the toll of my father’s war.
In the second section, she weaves together poems that have to do with race, peace demonstrations, weather, and daily life. “Stacking Wood” is a precise description of a necessary northern chore, a poem reminiscent of Robert Frost:
I cinch in the view with winter’s gold,
building round and higher
until it frames sky
purpling over stands of balsam
and cedar, green incense of winter,
softening this hardwood wall.
Anyone who’s stacked firewood knows the tedium and beauty so well captured in this poem.
Rich in praise and paradox, both the peace and war sections are solidly grounded in the northern land the poet loves, and seasoned with regret. These are complex poems, showcasing the craft of a versatile writer. Let’s hope for more from this talented author.