Natashia Deón, Mother Writer with Attitude and Inspiration

Natashia DeónPhoto Credit Casey Curry

Natashia Deón
Photo Credit Casey Curry

“In the words of Cheryl Strayed, “Write like a mother f’er,” and embrace your struggle as a badge of honor… You are as unique as those who have earned the highest star in battle—a life saver—and you should never let anyone shame you out of what’s meant to be celebrated.”

If you haven’t already, you should meet my good writer friend Natashia Deón. She and I were PEN EV’ers together in 2010, and she’s been doing some amazing things since then, such as creating a reading series in the Los Angeles area called Dirty Laundry Lit that’s catching some major attention. Besides being an amazing writer, community organizer, and practicing lawyer, she’s a momma of two! This lady does it all. I caught up with her this week to find out how she does it and what advice she has for other mother writers. Read on and be inspired (and check out the links to her work such as “Black Barbie” in The Rumpus for even more inspiration).

Interview with Natashia.

 

Thanks for reading!

Love,

Jenn

 

Cattle Call Leaves

Photo credit: I.V. Weekly Chronicle

Photo credit: I.V. Weekly Chronicle

My short story (an excerpt from my novel)  “Cattle Call Leaves: A Ghost Story” has been published by Contrary Magazine.

My chest matched the stomping from the arena. How easy it would’ve been to give in. To walk away. How easy it would’ve been to let go. But the sticky yellow girl caught the rutted burial ground inside me, and I knew I couldn’t. “Even so, cowboy, my someone has been around a while, and I think I ought to finish the rodeo with him.”

Thank you for reading.

Love,

Jenn

Lovesong of the Barren Woman, Poems & An Interview with Jennifer Givhan

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Frida Kahlo’s The Broken Column

2. Looking Glass

                   The image in the mirror appears whole
                             though I swear I am a fragment.

Columnar self,
I am my own grotesque other body.

I fell asleep inside my pod and woke to red,
where oceans are dry as salt flats, where red means lost
and lost means dead.

(Read the whole poem here, published at The Fertile Source).

I am so honored to have poems & an interview published by The Fertile Source:

“In the Looking Glass section, with its body-as-empty-house imagery, I thought in terms of Mexican art—surrealist paintings, specifically by female painters Remedios Varo, Frida Kahlo, and Leonora Carrington, play a major role in my writing. They infuse my imagery with color, with discovering beauty and hope in the grotesque, in the strange. The columnar self is also an allusion to Frida Kahlo’s painting “The Broken Column”—and the grotesque is in part referencing the grotesque aspects of this type of art. I also draw on Julia Kristeva’s formulations of the abject in this section. Kristeva writes, “Abjection is above all ambiguity… while releasing a hold, it does not cut off the subject from what threatens it” (Powers of Horror). What threatens the infertile woman (and the woman whose babies die inside her) is her own body. Refiguring the classic construction of the mind/body split was a major concern in this section. In the poem, I was working out my own formulation for such questions as, how does a woman love a body that hurts her? That sabotages her? How does a mother find/express/nurture the babies that exist in her mind and heart but that will not grow inside her body?”

(Please read the whole interview here).

All my best to you,

Jenn

A Daughter’s Maternal Instinct – or The Egg-Thief, Great Grandma, and the Woozy Place

My short story, “A Daughter’s Maternal Instinct – or The Egg-Thief, Great Grandma, and the Woozy Place,” published online by As Us.

…A few years ago, mom told me Great Grandma’s story. A story stitched in our family’s ribs, in the seams of the women, the hearts of the daughters, the granddaughters, the great granddaughters. A wound that wouldn’t heal. A cautionary tale that hadn’t stuck…

Thank you so much for reading, and Happy New Year!

Love,

Jenn

Kindergarten

for Sandy Hook

12/14/12

I gave you extra juice this morning before school because you woke up with a cough. It was either warm apple juice or medicine; you chose juice. I wrapped two jackets over your Spiderman T-shirt because it rained through the night and I didn’t want you to be cold. I thought of keeping you home, but you wanted to play at recess with your best friends. You called everybody your best friend—the boy on the train, once, whom you’d just met. You wanted him to sit with us and watch the movie Cars but his mom wouldn’t let him. You called him your best friend.

I should have kept you home.

Conversation with Kelly Davio, managing editor of The Los Angeles Review


In this exciting interview with writer/editor/teacher Kelly Davio, Mother Writers has begun exploring  alternate voices and experiences… and I’m thrilled to add Kelly’s insights to the forum of successful women writers who (may or may not be) moms!

Read what Kelly has to say about the effect of childlessness on a woman’s writing and whether or not mother writers should submit mother-bird poems to literary magazines.

New interviews on their way… Next up, Tim and Megan Green, editors of Rattle, discuss how parenting affects their writing/editing relationship.

Thanks for reading and sharing!

Love,

Jenn

Jennifer Givhan writes because….

Jennifer Givhan writes because…..

After great pain, a poem comes. And I’m just a woman with an orange.

Read why I write, and then join the project and tell everyone why YOU write!

Thanks for reading and sharing, folks.

Love,

Jenn

We Represent the 47%

My personal story about how my family and I represent the 47%, posted online today.

JENNIFER GIVHAN’S VOICE

As Julianna Baggott says of my essay: “Jenn Givhan talks about the perils of miscarriage, pregnancy, and the healthcare system that can hit families hard. Such a strong piece.”

Visit the site WE REPRESENT THE 47% and share your own voice!

Love,

Jenn

I Sing of PCOS

Today in my freshman English class at UNM, a student wrote that she wishes she knew more about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which she has but doesn’t understand. I remember being her–remember reading about PCOS for the first time in SEVENTEEN magazine and thinking, “Hey, most of those symptoms?–I have them!” I remember the fear and uncertainty of such a diagnosis. Of seeing, when my husband and I began trying to have children the first year of our marriage when I was just twenty-one and a grad student, the string of pearls on the sonogram picture of my ovaries, undeniable evidence.

So here, for those women who are dealing with PCOS, whether or not you’re considering trying to become pregnant, are going through infertility, or have just been diagnosed, a link to a site I found so comforting and supportive my first days and weeks of dealing with the diagnosis, and a poem I wrote sometime between dealing with infertility and adopting my sunshine, Jeremiah. And, as most of you know, I then gave birth to my (surprise!) baby girl Adelina a few years after I “gave up trying” to become pregnant…

SOULCYSTERS

Info from their site: “the largest online community of women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder of women, affecting as many as 1 in 10. While there is no cure for PCOS, the symptoms of PCOS can be managed with proper treatment by a qualified PCOS physican.

Here, at SoulCysters.com, we also believe that we help each other through the PCOS journey. Many of our members have become lifelong friends, helped each other lose weight, and kept up with the birth of our children (yes, you CAN get pregnant with PCOS!)”

JENNIFER GIVHAN

from LOVESONG OF THE BARREN WOMAN
…I sing of PCOS—
That pirate disease, launching its scourge on my red woman’s deck,
goading my dreams as they walk the plank
with a splash and a plop.
I thirst. For round belly flesh.
For a living inner-tube to keep me afloat…
(Read the full poem here, published at The Fertile Source).
* * *
All my best to you, Cysters, and all my love.
Jenn

Interview with my own “poetry mother,” Irena Praitis

It is my honor to present a conversation with Cal State Fullerton’s beloved poetry professor, Irena Praitis, in the series of Mother Writers interviews.

Read and be inspired!

Love,

Jenn

Interview with Reyna Grande, Latina Mama Writer!

Reyna’s new book, her memoir THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, is being published this month, already to critical acclaim and praise! I had the chance to chat with her about juggling between an evermore successful writing career and maintaining a balance as a mother. Read on for some inspiration and advice. Then, share with your writer friends and go pick up a copy of Reyna’s new book. You’ll be glad you did.
Love,
Jenn

AN INTERVIEW WITH REYNA GRANDE

P.S., If you’re in the L.A. area on August 25, 2012, join Reyna in celebrating the release of her new book! And, spread the word!

Second Mother Writers interview up! Shaindel Beers…

Check out the insightful and amusing interview with poet, editor, creative writing instructor Shaindel Beers!

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Photo credit Jenny C. Reynolds Photography

The whole reason I started this interview series was to uncover some of the myths surrounding motherhood and mother-writing, which Shaindel does so perfectly, in her own wonderfully ironic way 🙂

Enjoy! (And share… let’s read each other!)

Then, stay tuned for our next interview, with critically acclaimed Latina novelist Reyna Grande!

Love,

Jenn

Conversation with Julianna Baggott

Hey all!

I’ve had the opportunity to chat with Julianna Baggott, amazingly talented and successful contemporary writer & poet… who’s also a mom! Check out the interview, the first in a series with successful mama writers, here.

CONVERSATION WITH JULIANNA BAGGOTT

If you have any suggestions about a successful mother writer you’d like to see interviewed, please feel free to contact me.

Next up in the series of interviews, SHAINDEL BEERS, poet & editor par excellence. Stay tuned!

Love,
Jenn

200 New Mexico Poems Centennial Anthology

Photo by Laura Gilpin

Mrs. Francis Na Kai and son, 1932

I’m honored that my poem “Mrs. Francis Na Kai at the Birthday Party” is included in this incredible project, celebrating one hundred years past and one hundred years future of New Mexican poetry (check out my poem, posted on June 29th). Thank you to Ms. Lisa Hase-Jackson, beautifully talented poet and editor.

Francis Na Kai and Family,
Red Rock Arizona
Photos by Laura Gilpin

Thank you for reading.

Love,

Jenn

ADOPTING DEPRESSION

ADOPTING DEPRESSION

My poem on The Feminist Wire, inspired by my writer friend Natashia Deón and her poem Welcome to Motherhood, published a few weeks ago.

It is always a bit scary for me to share, but so important.

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