Jane Mead, poet and a co-owner of Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City, Iowa, died September 8, the Napa Valley Register reported. She was 61. Mead was the author of five books of poetry and a chapbook, all of which were collected in To the Wren: Collected and New Poems 1991-2019, published in August by Alice James Books.
In a tribute, Alice James wrote: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear Jane Mead. Her life was all too brief, and already we feel the loss of her presence among us acutely. What Jane gave us was an extraordinary gift. Her work expanded our poetic philosophy, as she sought to write within, around, and into the certainty of uncertainty, the mystery of our being and our relationship to the natural world. She demonstrated a careful and abiding love for the land and its creatures in her life and work. Her poetry transformed the landscape of American letters, exemplifying what the very best of our craft could achieve.
"A private soul and one known to delight as much in solitude as time spent with dear friends, we see the way Mead's quiet tenacity influences and shapes our desires for living a life of observation, contemplation, and sincerity.... We miss her greatly. We love her dearly. We are utterly changed by her always. Thank you, Jane."
Mead's books include The Lord and the General Din of the World (1996), The House of Poured-Out Waters (2001), The Usable Field (2008), Money Money Money Water Water Water (2014), and World of Made and Unmade (2016).
"An ardent advocate for the writing and reading life," Mead was also co-owner, along with poet Jan Weissmiller, of Prairie Lights, which celebrated its 40th birthday recently, the Register noted.
"Jane Mead's indelible poems will always be with us," the bookshop posted on Facebook.
From her poem "The Origin":
Twice I have walked through this life--
once for nothing, once
for facts: fairy-shrimp in the vernal pool--
on the failing vines. Count me--
among the animals, their small
Count me among
the living. My greatest desire--
to exist in a physical world.