A Dreamer’s Guide To Cities and Streams

San Francisco Bay Press (January 1, 2009)

In her second full-length poetry collection, Joan Gelfand explores the poignancy of living in a world that is war-torn and environmentally damaged. With a nod to the humorous paradox of modern life, Gelfand writes from the vantage point of a mother, an artist, and a Zen meditator. A Dreamer’s Guide… looks beyond the surface of our lives at the connections that make life worth living, and the sensual details that color it.

The Long Blue Room

Benicia Literary Arts (January 31, 2014)

Joan Gelfand writes about what matters: environment, the economic crisis, meditation practice, family and love, but not necessarily in that order. Gelfand is a San Francisco Bay Area poet whose work inhabits that space between dreams and realizes the world of activism through art. Her latest collection, “The Long Blue Room,” includes the award-winning “Ferlinghetti School of Poetics,” “Paris Kisses,” “5AM,” and “I Know Why Sylvia Plath Put Her Head In The Oven.” With poetry drawn from the canvas of an imaginative, quirky and curious mind, Gelfand paints a picture of a global community that while in the throes of economic and environmental crises, still yearns for love and deep connections.

This yearning to explore transports Gelfand to the rocky terrains of the global financial crises, hunger in America and the not-always-comfortable inner worlds of being a human alive in the third millennium. Her fertile words envelop the reader in worlds of incomprehensible beauty finding serenity amidst the chaos.

Seeking Center: A Collection of Poems

Heliographica (January 1, 2004)

In Seeking Center, Joan Gelfand joins the reader in a free-wheeling discussion, beyond the poems themselves, regarding what is poetry today, here at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In forms that span from the short, highly-constrained haiku to the almost limitless prose poem, she seems to define poems as she produces them. She refines this discussion through poetic techniques that include innovative line breaks, a few rhymes and near-rhymes, internal rhymes that surprise and wordplay. Through all of this she seems to ask-and-answer what is poetry? And isn’t poetry being constantly redefined by new voice, new angles, and vision. What is a Joan Gelfand poem?

These poems reach widely into media other than the printed word, thus knitting a web of connections between arts and artists. “Museum Pieces,” the first of four sections, deals almost exclusively with reactions to visual art. At her best, Gelfand expresses the ability of a work of art to shock our prosaic universe.

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