Ritual with Fish Water

painting by Vladimir Kush

painting by Vladimir Kush

She opened the door wider, allowed
him in—dragging his fish, his strings of light,
his wounds—from the rain.

–Jenn Givhan

Read the poem in full at The Baltimore Review

Bird Woman and Bloom

sacagaweaSacagawea emerges from the hedgehog cacti
in the lot behind our crumpling house
heavy with cradleboard & mistaken

for a token of peace…

from “Bird Woman

 

 

The boys next door are ignoring my son. burning tree
It’s playground politics, the fragile and shifting
power dynamics of these early friendships…

from “Bloom

Read both poems at The Boiler.

Interview with Rachel McKibbens

Rachel McKibbens Some truth from poet, activist, playwright and badass mama-writer Rachel McKibbens.

“As a Chicana mother, I want to tell the story of myself and my ancestors in ways that guide my children towards the kind of self-love I never had permission to know when I was young.”

Read my interview with Rachel at Mother Writers.

If the Jornada del Muerto had a Trachea*

Won second-place in Blue Mesa Review’s Poetry Contest, judged by Carmen Jiménez Smith.

Child Lambright Elegy 2: Photo Credit Blue Mesa Review

Child Lambright Elegy 2: Photo Credit Blue Mesa Review

Maybe her mama didn’t even notice she too had almost gone away, on the xeriscaping, not breathing nothing

–Jenn Givhan

Read and listen to the full poem here.

Unexpected Visit

Remedios Varo

Remedios Varo

“The house turned hearse.”

Read Jenn Givhan’s poem at Red Paint Hill.

Madhouse of Spirits

Coil by Remedios Varo

Coil by Remedios Varo

I unwrap a bar of amaranth soap

and wash my own mouth

the way Mama used to do when I’d been profane…   

–Jenn Givhan

(Read full poem at The Collagist)

Blood is blood is

How does anyone
love inside skin?

Thankful to Menacing Hedge for nominating my poem “Blood is blood is” for a Pushcart. You can read and listen to the poem in full here.

Photo credit Menacing Hedge Fall 2014

Photo credit Menacing Hedge Fall 2014

Two Poems at Superstition Review

“TimeBrawleyTheater Capsule” and “Junkyard Halflight” up at Superstition Review.

“Small things come back in pieces.
That time of day I wasn’t afraid to close

my eyes. The white flies weren’t yet lured
by streetlamps; the air still held its damp menudo.
On one side of the house, the cemetery

where I buried a stillborn and a marriage
swollen with ditchwater; on the other side,
a landfill.” –Jenn Givhan

Two poems at Tinderbox Poetry

… my daughter and the girls in ballet-

costume pretend to fly in loops
around the red recital floor, believing

their outstretched arms make wings,
and with faces ready for takeoff,

they uplift in possibility.

–from “Searching the Skyline

How did you end in a river, his boxers for trunks,river walk
your skin for a bathing suit, the pitch
of your voices and the waves echoing a boned-
hollow of the absent music, laced
with regret.

–from “River Pitch

Tinderbox Poetry Journal

Reabsorption Elegy

Sculpture by Kenneth Paul Lesko

Sculpture by Kenneth Paul Lesko

 

Daughter, I won’t make milk for you anymore.
      The body retreats. It reclaims
miracles.

Published in Glint Literary Journal.

“Miracle of the River Pig” up at *Goblin Fruit*

My poem “Miracle of the River Pig”new river is live today at Goblin Fruit, and you can listen to me read it there as well!

It’s a grotesque and somewhat experimental poem for me recounting my experience in the Southern California desert near the New River. I began drafting the poem in Brenda Hammack‘s fairytale workshop with The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative, while I was also reading Frank Bidart’s “The War of Vaslav Nijinsky.”

I hope you enjoy! Thanks for reading! new river 2


" — Selves like iridescent, 
shining, speckled
shit in the Río Nuevo
frothy foaming stinking desert river
desert in the new world — 
how old were you? fifteen & blessed 
as Santa María,
I’m that lucky pig in the river — 
cut my trotters,
strike my blue-butt,
handle me,
sell me at auction,
devour me."

--Jenn Givhan

Read the full poem here.

 

Mama Hulas with the Eggslice Player One Last Time

My poem published at Tupelo Quarterly.

photo credit raw fashion magazine

photo credit raw fashion magazine

“the skate-floor-turned-dance-

for-your-life-floor,

just beginning to understand

I was the reason
 
for her dizziness and egglonging”

–Jenn Givhan

Miscarriage

Jennifer Givhan

MiscarriagIMG_0098e

In a field where a hot air balloon waits tethered,
children balancing umbrellas and wearing party hats

plant birthday bouquets; where they grow
the swollen bulbs push open the soil

smelling of clay and fingerpaint. Even the sky
celebrates in reverse, hanging like pigtails from a jungle gym.

Not many daffodils or crickets are lucky enough to become fossils,
but here every joule of heat remains inside the balloon.

One might be tempted to drift away now
rather than later.

IMG_0100

Have you met Dini Karasik?

dini karasik

“Writing is one way of finding my place in the world, of exploring my fragmented identity. But I also see it as an opportunity to challenge perceptions about otherness. My family does not resemble the stereotypes of Latinos I see in popular culture.”

Allow me to introduce you to Dini Karasik, Mexican-American mother, writer, lawyer, and my dear amiga. Here, she shares her experience of finally deciding to hunker down and *work* at her first love–writing.

Interview with Dini on Mother Writers.

The Next Big Thing: In the Time of Jubilee

Jenn and crabapple blossoms

What is your working title of your book (or story)?

My novel is *IN THE TIME OF JUBILEE*

Where did the idea for the book come from?

Reborn Doll

Reborn Doll

The idea came from Reborns. From Wikipedia: “A reborn doll is a manufactured vinyl doll that has been transformed to resemble a human baby with as much realism as possible. The process of creating a reborn doll is referred to as reborning and the doll artists are referred to as reborners. Reborn dolls are also known as living dolls or unliving dolls.

While I was researching issues of infertility and childlessness during my Master’s program at Cal State Fullerton, I watched a documentary from the UK on women who collect these dolls. Oftentimes, they are older women whose children and grandchildren have left home or passed away. These dolls are custom-made, and the artists who create them often advertise that they can recreate a replica of a child from a photograph. The women carry these dolls around as if they are real babies, strolling them around the park in prams, strapping them in car seats, etc. And the husbands often participate, for their wives’ sakes. The whole concept was incredibly interesting to me, and I wondered, what would happen psychologically if a woman really couldn’t tell the difference between this Reborn and her “real” child. In other words, what if this Reborn was real…

The other major inspiration came from the character Dorotea La Cuarraca, from Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo, which I read as a part of a class I’d created on Latina Pedro_PáramoMotherhood:

“I never had a son… And it was all the fault of one bad dream. I had two: one of them I call the ‘good dream,’ and the other the ‘bad dream.’

The first one made me dream I had a son to begin with. And as long as I lived, I always believed it was true. I could feel him in my arms, my sweet baby, with his little mouth and eyes and hands. For a long, long time I could feel his eyelids, the beatings of his heart, on my fingertips. Why wouldn’t I think this was true? I carried him with me everywhere, wrapped in my rebozo, and then one day I lost him.

In heaven they told me they’d made a mistake. That they’d given me a mother’s heart but the womb of a whore.

That was the other dream I had.”

What genre does your book fall under?

Literary Fiction

America FerreraWhich actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Here’s the problem—most of the mainstream youngish Latina actresses I know of come from the Disney Channel (i.e., Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez)!

The first person I thought of to play my protagonist Bianca was America Ferrera (loved her in Ugly Betty!!). She is a great actress, and her work with women’s issues inspires me. (See her part in the documentary Half the Sky). And hey, America had her start on a Disney Channel movie, too!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

*IN THE TIME OF JUBILEE* explores the idea of family through the experiences of 20-year-old Mexican-American Bianca Vogelsang, who arrives home one day with a doll in her arms—a doll she believes is Jubilee, the baby she was unable to carry to term.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I was super proud of the first draft of my novel because I wrote the entire thing in less than ONE MONTH for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The story has been in my mind for years. The original idea came for it when I was writing my first poetry manuscript in my Master’s program at CSUF. At the time, I knew I wanted to write a novel eventually but was intimidated. I had about twenty false starts, where I’d write an opening, usually a paragraph or two, but never move on from there. Then, in 2011, I started thinking more and more about the idea. On a road trip back to Cali from New Mexico where I now live, I was talking the idea through with my husband and began to get excited about it. Then, I heard about this thing called NaNoWriMo in November. It’s a challenge to write an entire novel (at least 60k words) in ONE MONTH! I thought, oh man, can I do that??? Oct 31st, I still wasn’t sure if I could, but I’d made a commitment to myself that I would. November 1st came, and I took off. At the end of the month, I had written 75k words—a complete first draft of the novel. Much of it came from the ideas laid out in the poetry manuscript. I always knew I wanted to write a novel, but I never knew for sure that I could do it. And then I did it. There was such a sense of accomplishment in that.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

*SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK* (Matthew Quick)

*BELOVED* (Toni Morison)

Toward the Tower, Remedios Varo

Toward the Tower, Remedios Varo

*SO FAR FROM GOD* (Ana Castillo)

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My family, surrealist writers and artists (especially the Mexican women surrealist painters Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, and Remedios Varo), and poetry.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Here are comments about my novel from editors for major publishing houses:

“Bianca’s troubling story is so authentically rendered on the page, and I love the lyrical power of Givhan’s prose. She is a real talent and a bright star on the contemporary literary horizon.”

“I think the concept behind this book is so cool (and creepy!).”

“Givhan’s complex treatment of reality, delusion, and imagination presents an entirely fresh perspective that allows readers to view the world through her characters’ eyes in rich, captivating detail.”

* * *

Thank you for reading!

Love,

Jenn

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