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The Mythology of Becoming

October 21, 2018

 Jen Fitzgerald is a poet, essayist, photographer, and a native New Yorker who received her MFA in Poetry at Lesley University and her BA in Writing at The College of Staten Island (CUNY). She is a community activist, organizer, and freelance writer/editor/content creator. For 2018, Jen is the Managing Editor for the small, Los Angeles based press, Agape Editions. a member of New York Writers Workshop, She teaches creative writing workshops online and around New York City. Her first collection of poetry, “The Art of Work” was published by Noemi Press in September of 2016. Her essays, poetry, and photography have appeared in such outlets as PBS Newshour, Boston Review, Tin House, Salon, and New England Review among others. She is living in and restoring a 200 year old hotel/boarding house as she completes her next poetry collection and finds a home for her memoir.

 

I’ve had the great honor of teaching, alongside Jessica Hall, a six-week memoir writing intensive at John Jay College.  This university’s re-entry program for formerly incarcerated individuals is doing great work to engage and empower.

 

My time with Prison Writes has been transformative and this workshop is no exception. The participants have created poetry and prose that questions the lines between fact and truth. They are implicating themselves as narrators and entering into a state of self-observation to hone and develop their individual “voices.”

 

I won't say I’ve been surprised by the writing and level of craft in the workshop, because I know about the individuals who carve time out of their hectic schedule to reconnect with the aspects of themselves—I know who comes to devote time to their stories because I brought myself to this pseudo-altar over and over again until I was finally ready to say what needed to be said.Arriving to the place where you hear your own voice clearly is like coming home.

 

The individuals taking this workshop are talented, motivated people with stories to tell: stories full of difficult realities, complicated truths, and the ceaseless determination to always build up the best versions of ourselves. Always blooming, always becoming.I am proud of this “Exquisite Corpse” poem that we wrote in class, while engaging with Brian Doyle’s essay, “Joyous Voladoras.”

 

Mythology of Becoming

 

Bone-dry, severed and ready to bloom

heavy-handed compliments

by the dozen offering a lively hue

 

the kind that turns

your self-doubting lies

into philosophical views

 

a view inside and out, up

and down, close up and long

shot but by no means to be dismissed

 

for to dismiss another is to dismiss

ourselves; memoirs written to light

eulogies for memories of better times

 

never to be read as nonfiction

but as a myth of life. I’m not a story

that’s been made up but a walking dream

 

a dream walking itself through this world

a darkness overcome by a love

unblemished is oft remembered

 

and it walks into the light

without looking back actually having

a wanted audience for its harp

 

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