As a writer, I often reread my own work. You might think this is out of pride or self-importance, but it really isn’t. I reread my own work to see if it holds up to the passing of hours, days, years. I write as much for myself as I do for a more public audience, and I am particularly proud of a poem or essay that still stirs feelings in me months or years after it is written. Rereading a poem I’m particularly proud of is like finding an old photograph that is so beautiful it can speak for people who aren’t alive anymore.
So I am excited to share good news about one of my favorite poems – a poem I read and reread, a poem that is so special to me it’s the first one you’ll read in Neoteny: Poems. This poem has never been published before, but it has been read in public. The poem is called “I Begin to Understand Jo March,” and it was a finalist for The Poet’s Billow 2018 Atlantis Award!
You can read my poem, along with other finalists and winners, here. That link will take you down to my poem specifically (a nice touch provided by The Poet’s Billow), so scroll up to read my fellow contributors. Our bios can be found here.
Why Jo March?
If you haven’t read Little Women, go read it. It’s a book I fell in love with years ago. But as you might expect, I didn’t know the childhood love for this story would grow up with me. I reread Little Women a few years ago and discovered that the story was more complex than my adolescent mind had realized. Then I read it again. And again. And I, in a transitional stage of my life, realized that Jo March was doing something remarkable, and feeling an ache I had just started to know. So I went to the computer and started typing.
This poem is special to me because when I reread it, I feel the rush of emotions that inspired it. The words do what I need them to do. For me, the poem has not worn away with time. It has grown stronger.
I hope you’ll enjoy this poem – and my forthcoming collection – as much as I do.