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Wild Roses explores the ravishing complexities in the lives of women from the 18th through the 20th centuries, revealing how society’s boundaries did not prevent some women from realizing who they were, or what they wanted. These poems celebrate women pirates, outlaws, based on research, but gently depart from the usual historical accounts, because they seem true to those who embraced lives they chose, not necessarily because they came from difficult family lives, but because they followed adventure and traveled seas and desert roads other women only dreamt about. Jan Minich’s elegant and honest language re-envision not only brings to readers what these women may have felt, but his attention to their emotional lives is enchanting. This book holds many surprises for the reader. It seems his own soul is intertwined with the voices of these women.
Praise for Jan Minich’s work:
Wild Roses reveals a thoroughly engaging quiet depth with many implications and the often surprising points of view of women on the edges of history. While the voices are both varied and specific, the effect of the characterizations of these women struggling to fulfill their various yet related desires expands to a larger portrait of endurance and determination that defines and characterizes related frontiers as much internal as they are realistic and each one gains from its relationships to the others.
Jan Minich has given us not just a collection of fascinating characters but a lyrical and direct region of understanding that opens the complex intersection of historical events and personal desires.
–– Rich Ives, author of Light from a Small Brown Bird and Tunneling to the Moon
I have not known that many writers in my life who are in possession of both patience and genius. However, Jan Minich is one of these! Ghost speeches from women easily linked to the Butch Cassidy gang are featured here. These thrown voices trespass on our moment in ways that startle—in ways that are completely memorable. This is a quietly scary book, a great book.
–– Norman Dubie, Griffin Poetry Prize winner for The Quotations of Bone
In his remarkable new collection, Jan Minich nimbly slips into various female personas and reveals, in spiraling and ever-deepening narratives, the interior desires of outlaw women from Irish pirate Anne Bonny to Etta Place of the Wild Bunch. Brash, unapologetic, the women abandon their hometowns, religion, and prescribed female roles and plunge into the fierce, exquisite landscapes of desert, sea, and prairie to seize the lives they were meant to live. Each thrives, briefly, like the wild rose, in all its feminine splendor, its barbed violence.
–– Shanan Ballam, author of Pretty Marrow
I can’t deny it’s one of the reasons
I stay with them,
but Butch has become a brother
and Harry remains my beloved.
I have seen more country
than I ever thought possible,
and though they won’t admit it
they have enjoyed, as much as me,
the five- and seven-hundred-mile rides
to Montana or the Dakotas.
There are so few people here,
we travel for weeks
without seeing another human being.
I like the horses, always near,
and the never-weary routine of camps,
joking with the boys, wondering
if the posse just a few hours back
will be the one that won’t give up.
In my journal, I have described
these canyons we’re passing through.
Sometimes the boys wait below
and I ride up under the cottonwoods
to see if this one leads out,
if there’s enough rock to hide our trail.
Then, when we need it, it’s here.
Though they won’t admit it,
and though I offer it gracefully enough,
I remember each one
to the time of day sunlight
falls on the steep walls, where
each spring is falling into a green pool.
The weeks on the trail convince us
we might go on like this forever.
I have never cared for the settled life
most women want, and my clothes
come just as clean though the smells
of the open country are always with me,
and though I add a drop or two
of perfume to my washwater,
the roses are always wild roses.
About Jan Minich
Jan C. Minich lives in Wellington, Utah, and Bayfield, Wisconsin.
Summers he cruises Lake Superior in a small boat, and winters, hikes the canyons of Utah He has a book of poems The Letters of Silver Dollar, and two chapbooks: History of a Drowning (Owl Creek Press) and Wild Roses (Outlaw Artists). His poems have appeared most recently in Verse Wisconsin, Sugarhouse Review, Kestrel, Clover, and Weber: A Contemporary Journal of the American West. Jan is a former wilderness studies and literature professor at the College of Eastern Utah. He holds a PhD from the University of Utah and an MFA from the University of Iowa.