Some Days I Get to Be a Poet

I got to visit my poet-friend Nicelle’s class yesterday evening at Antelope Valley College, and her students were so wonderfully engaged and thoughtful in their observations and questions about The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman. Then Nicelle took me out to a fantastic Thai dinner with two of her high school poetry club students. For someone who loves poetry, people, and Thai food, this was as close to perfect as an evening gets. :) Thanks, Nicelle!

Visiting Nicelle's Class - 10.1.14

Review of The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman

There is a lovely review of The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman in Religious Studies Review (40.1).

The editor who corresponded with me about the review joked that he “would consider maiming someone for so favorable a review.” I told him that I’m pretty nonviolent, but I’d consider baking many cookies for so favorable a review. :)

I don’t know the reviewer at all, but if Bobby Caudle Rogers ever sees this: thank you for your time, for your thoughtful reading of my poetry, and for your generous affirmation.

I Awake in My Womb: Year 1

Happy anniversary to my third chapbook, I Awake in My Womb!

I Awake in My Womb cover

These poems are based on dreams that I had immediately before and during pregnancy, and this chapbook has been fun for me to revisit now that I’m pregnant again. I’m glad that my dreams have not been so vivid or fraught this time around, but I’m also glad that I captured the bizarre manifestations of my anxiety the first time!

Two of the poems from this chapbook were nominated for The Pushcart Prize: thanks for that, Yellow Flag Press and Thrush Press!

You can read a few of these poems in online journals: “The Well” in elimae, “The Dream Job” in Fiction Southeast, and “The Minor Mutation” in TRIVIA.

Although this limited edition chapbook is out of stock from YFP now, I have a few contributor’s copies left to sell, so contact me if you’re interested.

I’ll close this anniversary post with the note from my acknowledgements page: “Thanks to Marthe Reed for her invaluable feedback on these poems and for our many talks about pregnancy and motherhood; to J. Bruce Fuller of Yellow Flag Press for his enthusiastic affirmation; to Elliott for simply being; and to Jon for sharing all of the identity crises, horrors, and profound joys of parenting with me.”

Tea with Ezra: Year 1

Happy anniversary to my second published chapbook, Tea with Ezra!

Tea with Ezra - Jenn at the beach

These poems, especially the ones based on fairy tales, are some of my very favorites to share at poetry readings. They’re also some of my favorites to read aloud in private: my son often grabs this chapbook off of the shelf by my desk and asks me to read “Mommy’s poems” to him. :)

I received The Nassau Review‘s Author Award for Poetry for “Sleeping Beauty’s Mother,” and most of these poems appeared in cool journals before I collected them into this chapbook.

This lovely little handmade chapbook from Boneset Books sold out in pre-order, but the publisher intends to do a second run soon. Thanks to Emily Capettini for publishing this collection, thanks to everyone who bought a copy, and thanks to Jenn Tracy for the awesome book-at-the-beach photo.

While you wait for the second run, I have a handy electronic version of Tea with Ezra that I’ll be happy to share with you if you contact me.

The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman: Year 1

I feel like I should wish a happy first birthday to my three chapbooks that were published last summer, but then that’s not quite right. They were born long before they were published. Maybe publication is more of a coming of age than a birth. Maybe this is an anniversary.

Regardless, I’ll start with the first…

Happy first year of publication to The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman! This collection was the first intentionally unified, researched-based collection I ever wrote, yet the persona poems manage to capture more of my own faith/doubt than any overtly autobiographical poetry I’ve written.  It will always be special to me, and I’m glad that it was the first to be published.

Cover - The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman

During this first year, I especially loved sharing these poems as the featured poet at PLNU’s Poetry Day last September and as the keynote speaker for Biola’s Zeitgeist Conference in May, and, of course, I loved wearing my Jesus costume at the AWP bookfair to get people to stop and talk to me about this book.

Poetry Day - Reading Q&AJesus









I was also thrilled to have a poem from this collection, “Where Death Is Not an Is,” featured on Verse Daily in September.

Thank you to everyone who bought this chapbook, read these poems, listened to me read these poems, talked with me about these poems and the stories behind them, reviewed the collection, interviewed me in print and podcast, and stopped to talk and take pictures with Jesus/me. I’m so honored to be able to do this work.

If you haven’t yet gotten a copy of The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman, you can still do so from Amazon or from Wipf & Stock. Or better yet, you can buy it straight from me and I’ll sign it for you. ;)

From my ocean-view room in Malibu…

I have an ocean-view room at the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, where I’ve spent the last day and a half working on poems and enjoying the ocean breeze. Sometimes real life is peaceful and full of poetry. More often it’s full of poop and toddler tantrums, but those are mixed in with toddler humor and snuggling. I’m thankful that I get to experience all of it.

I’m working on finishing up the first draft of a new poetry manuscript, tentatively titled All That Remains. When my colleagues at this faculty retreat ask what I’m working on over shared meals in the dining hall, I like to tell them that I’m rewriting the Bible. I wish I’d been raising my camera immediately to snap photos of the facial expressions I’ve gotten in response: most people smile or laugh, and everyone’s eyebrows rise up to full staff.

The longer explanation is that I started this poetry project because I needed an assignment. In 2012, with a new baby and a new full-time job, having just finished my dissertation, I thought that I’d better give myself a structured writing project that would keep me writing even when the world was against my actually writing anything. I was feeling particularly angry at the time toward people who take Bible verses out of context and use them as weapons against anyone who disagrees with them. I thought, “I can take biblical language out of context too!” and set out to satirize this practice. What started as angry satire quickly became playful and interesting:  anagrams for titles, word-bank-style found poetry. I’m enjoying the process and feel excited about the results so far.

As of this afternoon, I’m 12 poems away from finishing a complete draft of this manuscript! Now back to work…