September 15 – 29, 2020

Jan Shoemaker

Jan Shoemaker is the author of the essay collection, Flesh and Stones: Field Notes from a Finite World, and the poetry collection, The Reliquary Earth. Born and raised a Michigander, Jan lived in both the Pacific Northwest and in the Northeast before returning to Michigan to write and teach and raise a family. She received the Greater Lansing United Nations Association Loy La Salle Award for Outstanding Contributions to Global Education for her classroom work in literature and in world religions.

Jan’s essays and poems have been anthologized, featured on public radio, and published in many magazines and journals including The Sun, River Teeth, Fourth Genre, Colorado Review, Evening Street Review, Still Point Arts Quarterly, and Upstreet. She received Confrontation Magazine’s 2017 Poetry Prize and her essays have been “nominated,” she says, “in that always a bridesmaid way” for the Pushcart Prize. She participated in a teaching residency at Walden Pond in 2018 and has run workshops at sundry writing conferences. She has an MFA in Creative Writing.

Jan’s essays and poems explore the natural world and our human relation within and, as self-conscious creatures, to it. What does it mean to be, and know oneself to be, a transient here on Earth? What larger reality do we not perceive because, as Thoreau says, “our vision does not penetrate the surface of things?” What might we notice if we paid better attention? What are our moral obligations to each other; what does it feel like to fall short of our own best intentions; and finally, what comprises our hope of and struggle for redemption? These are the questions that drive Jan’s literary explorations. Her work, she insists, is not for people who always get life right, but for people who fall down here and there and struggle to get back up and do a little better by the world. As she does: again and again and again.   

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