JoAnne Preiser
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JoAnne Preiser 






JoAnne Preiser is a life-long lover of the written word. She received a MA from the University of Massachusetts and was a member of the English Department at Dover Sherborn High School for many years. As a high school English teacher JoAnne was instrumental in introducing poetry to students. She created a Poetry Workshop for juniors and seniors and brought a number of poets to her school. As a member of Fine Line Poets (, she has enjoyed joining other members of the group in conducting workshops in poetry and memoir in the Boston area.

JoAnne’s work has appeared in numerous journals including: Slipstream, Madison Review, Ibbetson Street, and Alehouse Press. She has received honors from New Millennium Writers, The Ledge, Literal Latte and New Letters.  Poet Billy Collins chose her poem, “Pink Mist” as the winner of Inkwell’s 2006 poetry competition and Charles Martin chose her poem, “Renditions,” as the winner of Comstock Review’s 2011 Muriel Craft Bailey Award. . In 2015 JoAnne received a scholarship from Finishing Line Press to attend The Abroad Writers’ Conference in Dublin, Ireland for her poem, “City of Widows.”

Two of her chapbooks, Confirmation (2008) and Riding the Red Chair (2015), were published by Finishing Line Press. The latter consists of poems that deal with the evolution of a mother/daughter relationship as they navigate the world of dementia.


Pink Mist


It should be the kind of drink

that young girls in A-line skirts

and round collared blouses

sip at Eber’s Drug Store

an effervescent sweet drawn

through long straws while they spin

on soda fountain stools


            or the name of the first nail polish

her mother allows her to wear

a shy color, hardly noticeable

over her unlined fingers, unscarred

cuticles, a polish that matches the dress

she will wear to the junior prom.


It could be the gauzy fabric

that hung in her first apartment on Keswick Street

separating her single bed from the crowded living room


            a sound            so sweet

like that cloying cocktail she drank

in the Kon Tikki Room with a boy home

from Vietnam, a sound that conjures nothing

like a body, nothing near the scent of blood

nothing resembling the vaporization

                        of flesh and bones.



Winner of the Grand Prize for Poetry from Inkwell, 2006                                                                                  



Chapman rendered Homer, enthralled young Keats,

changed his life over the course of one night.

Billie Holiday rendered Summertime in dim lit clubs.

I sang her version as a lullaby, let my voice climb

her scales, calm the screaming newborn in my arms.


I remember my mother rendering fruit

for jams and jellies we spread on morning toast,

my mother-in-law melting chicken fat

for chopped liver; she called it schmaltz,

smeared it over seeded rye.


The chicken factory in Chinatown rendered me

weak kneed. On the way to dim sum I held my nose

and on my father’s mink farm, drums filled with fat,

flensed from red carcasses, waited to be rendered

into hand lotions, boot polish and anti aging creams.


There’s an ageless quality to Billie’s other song,

with its strange fruit, its southern trees

that even tonight branch into new renditions

with black hoods and secret places, a new set of faces

rendered hushed and silent.



Received First Place in Comstock Review’s Muriel Craft Baily Award, 2011

City of Widows



A rainbow of saris clutters the road to Vrindavan,

a confusion of color to confound the pilgrims

who must step around the multitudes

of women seeking sanctuary.


Krishna was born in this city of temples, courted

his childhood sweetheart here. He and Radha

danced in these streets, prayed in the temples

where widows beg.


I was nine when I was betrothed

To a husband I had never seen,

Twelve when he died and his family

Sent me away.


Their families cast them aside,

stripped the rings from their fingers,

erased the bindi from their heads,

left them to wander like jackals


denied even the foods they learned to cook

at their mothers’ side: onions and garlic,

pickles and fish — such heat 

could ignite their desires.


Donning white a widow stays faithful

to the dead husband

who may have loved her like a thousand gems

who may have beaten her every day.


I wonder if my grandmother’s leap

Into the funeral pyre

Offered more succor, the ashes of sati

Better than banishment, even from a son’s wedding


Like a bat’s wing, a widow’s shadow spreads bad luck,

blackens every festival. No longer a she,

this it, this husband eater

must submit, shave her head, stay pure—


pray the gods may grant her enlightenment.


Published in Madison Review, Spring 2016

Recipient of scholarship from Finishing Line Press, 2015