Professor Dr. Jane Creighton's Collection of Poetry Hits Bookshelves September 1
By Sheryl E. Taylor
Dr. Jane Creighton has graced the halls and classrooms of the University of Houston-Downtown for the past 24 years and this September the Professor of English is introducing a new collection of poetry, “Bone Skid, Bone Beauty” (Saint Julian Press, Inc.).
This latest book is described as “a collection of poems deeply absorbed in a language that thinks through the body and the body's memory of place, of love, and of losses sustained over time.”
Q: What can the reader expect from this collection?
A: Poetry, I know, for many readers takes a bit of patience—and in 2021, patience can be in short supply. But I’m hopeful that if readers take their time, drink in the language, allow themselves to see into the imagery, they may find that the poems become a vehicle for the passion and power of their own thinking. These poems, humble as they are, “contain multitudes,” as Walt Whitman wrote of his poetic practice. They speak to moments of thought about this world, its injustices, the scrambling we must often do to try to set things right, the doubts we have, but also the joy we might take in being alive to all of it. I hope readers might find some of this for themselves.
Q: What was your motivation for this new collection of poems?
A: I returned to writing poetry some time ago after a long hiatus, and just found over time that individual poems began to grow into a collection. Persistent themes in the book circle around losses of family—both my parents when I was quite young, and my brother fairly recently—so I would say that my writing has always been motivated by the desire to understand, well, not just grief—as huge as that is—but the continuing imprint of those lost on the consciousness of the living. The knowledge I continue to gain from that I carry into everything else that I do, from teaching to reading to learning how to really listen to the voices of others. I am still learning. It seems a critical year for all of us to listen to each other, to pay attention, to think things through and to find the power of our voices to better the circumstances of our communities.
Q: Do you have a favorite poem in the book? If so, why?
I’m quite sure some poems are better than others, but, no, I don’t think of favorites, I guess because each of them, flaws and all, brings me to a moment of acute attention to the music and rhythms of the immediate world as I was experiencing it.
Q: The past year has been filled with a litany of emotions from the pandemic to George Floyd and so on, does this collection somehow provide solace for the reader or some sort of hope? If so, how?
I’m going to draw on what my publisher wrote on the website: “These poems seed landscapes from the North Atlantic coastline to the far west deserts of Texas with the cadences and syntax of a poet intent on drawing knowledge from what she sees in order that she might give voice to breath and sing an urgent and radiant love for this world.”—Really, it's the last part of the sentence—the solace and hope, I think, have to do with how much I hope these poems express a love for this world and our time in it, and that it is deeply worth fighting for. And we have such a lot to fight for—social justice, environmental justice, and economic justice across all borders, the right to vote without interference—we can look in every direction and see the multitudes of real people who live in the struggle for these rights.
Q: The book’s cover and interior artwork are by UHD alumnus José “Angel” Quesada, how did this collaboration come to be?
A: I met Angel some years ago when he worked at Houston Art Alliance. We became friends, and when I was trying to think about the cover of this book, I thought of Angel’s work as a muralist and asked him if he would be willing to work on this project. I’m delighted and over the moon that he agreed. I really can’t imagine a better cover for this book—and the interior drawings are beautiful markers for the five sections of this collection with photographer Alicia Kahn.
Creighton’s work has been published in journals, including “Ploughshares,” “The American Voice,” “Gulf Coast” and the online journal of The Poetry Foundation. Her work is also featured in “We Begin Here: Poems for Palestine and Lebanon” (Interlink Books), “Encountering Disgrace: Reading and Teaching Coetzee’s Novel” (Camden House), “Still Seeking and Attitude: Critical Reflections on the work of June Jordan (Lexington Books), “Unwinding the Vietnam War (Real Comet Press), and “Close to The Bone: Memoirs of Hurt, Rage, and Desire” (Grove Press).
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.