Homeland consists of three cycles of poems, the first focusing on the wildlife of Africa, the original homeland; the second on American Paintings of European Conquest and Westward Movement, seen through both the 19th century imagination and the chastened, post-modern vantage of the turning millennium; the third on fossils, which become the metaphorical vessel for exploring the grief of a broken marriage. In the fourth and final section, more personal poems articulate the intimately spiritual experience of living as a witness touched deeply by stories both contemporary and historical, from daily encounters as well as the world at large, the homeland where the poet dwells and strives to shape meaning and maintain faith.
Of the dozens of books of poetry I read in the past year, Homeland takes the prize: every reading became more deeply rewarding. . . . these are poems about fear and horror and the courage to sing...
-- Jay Paul, Library of Virginia Award Panelist
The poems in Homeland filled me with a sense of wonder, but also left me with a disquieting sense of dread. . . . a terrible beauty. . . . The juxtaposition of Ellen Ripley from the Alien films and Anne Frank in the concentration camp, how we can face death and still find hope, should not work in any conceivable way, but it does.
-- Collin Kelley: Modern Confessional
Her voice in these poems, a ‘many-corridored memory,’ moves from tiny, insular worlds . . . to the stunning perceptions revealed in art and science . . . .
-- Heather Ross Miller
In so many of these poems, Keener-Mikenas sounds the voice of a patient Eve who regards the creatures as if the for first time, but who knows and laments their future [as well as] the civilization (‘as much curse/ as bright idea’) implicit in “an ideal wilderness." Homeland remains a book of affirmations, replete with masterful lyricism and unabashed New World wonder…
-- Michael Waters
Homeland won the 2013 Library of Virginia Poetry Award and was a finalist for the Dana Awards and for the Bright Hill Press Poetry Competition; individual poems won the Writers at Work Prize for Poetry from Quarterly West, Chelsea’s 1st Place Award for Poetry, the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award for Poetry, as well as the Americas Review Prize for Poetry.
Color Documentary explores the poet's physical and spiritual experience with the natural world through the lenses of her rural childhood in Texas and the journey of young motherhood. Political, environmental and social consciousness form a tight weave throughout this lyrical collection, from manatees and the fate of the rain forest to Daphne, the Cariatids and a Leonardo nativity. The beauty and suffering of all beings is portrayed in vivid emotional color.
"I knew/to catch and hold as much of you/as I could" [she] writes of her grandmother, but her strict attention applies equally to all creatures. Keener explores not only the blood tie among humans, but between the human and animal worlds."
-- Maxine Kumin
"Here the personal and the political meet in a fine lyric intensity. Color Documentary is the debut of a poet who makes us believe in "the silk like of the voice."
-- Susan Ludvigson
Color Documentary won a 1990 Virginia Prize in manuscript form; individual poems won a Pushcart nomination, a Virginia Highlands Festival Award, and honorable mentions in the Sri Chinmoy Poetry Awards, the Louisiana Literature Poetry Competition, the Chester Jones Foundation Poetry Competition, the Nimrod/Hardman Awards, and the Wildwood Prize.