Jeanie Thompson

"...through the land of darkness and silence..."

Interview with Jeanie Thompson by Poetry Editor Rachel Nix in

Rachel Nix, poetry editor of engages Jeanie Thompson in a wide-ranging conversation about her writing, her work with the Alabama Writers’ Forum, and her dream for young writers in her home state. “Birth Night Pantoum,” a new poem by Thompson is also published in this issue.  Read more… [link:

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The Myth of Water Makes Southern Literary Review

"Award-winning writer Jeanie Thompson is a brave, bold poet. In The Myth of Water (University of Alabama Press 2016), she presents a remarkable and evocative series of thirty-four poems to tell a deeply personal story of the iconic Helen Keller. And if the concept of historical persona poems wasn’t daring enough, she also tackles one of the prevailing myths about Helen Keller in the book’s title poem.

Who among us doesn’t recall the pivotal scene in the film or play when teacher Anne Sullivan puts young Helen’s hand under the pump and spells out water—and the blind/deaf child learns the concept of language? Yet, in Thompson’s book, the poem “The Myth of W-a-t-e-r” tells a somewhat different version..."--Claire Matturro, reviewer


More Praise for The Myth of Water

"This is a moving and wholly satisfying collection of poetry. This collection is satisfying as a work of poetry, a work of biography, and a work of spiritual contemplation."  -- Maurice Manning, author of One Man's Dark and The Gone and the Going Award

 “Jeanie Thompson, through an act of sympathetic imagination, enters the Helen Keller story, relives it from the inside, and presents it here toreaders, fresh, reimagined and, yes, a miracle. If we thought there was nothing new to be said or learned about Helen Keller, Jeanie Thompsons new book shows us how wrong we would be to think that. The Myth of Water is a revelation — Richard Tillinghast, author of Wayfaring  Stranger and The Stonecutter’s Hand.”

 “Jeanie Thompson’s highly tactile The Myth of Water is woven like burlap cloth with a warp of prose narrative and a woof of poetry that miraculously make Helen Keller’s emotional life and intellectual process palpable for readers. Thompson’s poetic technique depends on metaphor—on what is like what—on kinship and the surprise of recognition. This approach is the reverse of ‘normal’ poetry-making and ‘normal’ learning, when we hear and see directly what is, and then it takes flight in metaphor and abstraction. Through Thompson’s inspired and inspiring poetry, we experience Helen Keller’s world from the inside to the contiguous world. These poems, of world significance, will break your heart, then mend it and return it to you enlarged. The brilliance of these poems makes me weep with joy.”— Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife: or, The Star-Gazer; Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette; and The Fountain of St. James Court: or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman

 “While it is hard to find a contemporary poet able to conjure any human figure, much less one so sealed in stone as Helen Keller, in Thompson’s The Myth of Water Helen lives. She is present. Had I not read these simple poems I would not have believed they could have been written.”— Louie Skipper, author of The Work Ethic of the Common Fly  and It Was the Orange Persimmon of the Sun

“In The Myth of Water  Jeanie Thompson, through Helen Keller’s persona, moves us beyond the five sensory dimensions we’ve come to privilege. Here are the sixth, seventh, and eighth senses, the unseen. Theseare the ones connecting us with the larger unseen and unheard universe. Why watch and hear water when you can be water: ‘I was alone, tumbling/ in the deep element of myself.’ Thompson’s world is indeed deep and at times unnerving. Although we know how this story ends, the thoughtful syntax and unexpected images anchors us in an immediate now experience. This is not historical poetry, this is a commentary on the myth of limitation.”—Derrick Harriell, author of Ropes and Stripper in Wonderland

“In The Myth of Water, Jeanie Thompson investigates the life of Helen Keller through an aesthetic imagination drawing on memory, culture and the historical to give us this seminal text. These poems are meticulous, lyrical, edifying. Midway through this collection the reader will begin to see the world through Keller’s eyes, not the darkness but the everlasting light.”—Randall Horton, author of Hook: A Memoir and Pitch Dark Anarchy