Jenuine Poetess is the pre-eminent feminist poet in Waco. According to the biography at the end of the book, she has had a wide-ranging and diverse career as a poet, ranging from California, to Italy, and now Texas. She founded the Waco Poets Society in 2013 as well as a grassroots writing circle project with chapters in Los Angeles, Texas, and Lebanon. The biography continues, Jenuine’s poetry is “Rooted in the conviction that creative health is a matter of justice, [she] organizes arts programming in her community and ponders ways to disrupt the homeostasis. She is the founder and midwife of truths at www.unsilent.org, because courage is contagious and there is medicine in your ‘me too.” Her website is www.jenuineartworks.com. She is a fantastic poet, and her collection Bloodstories will set your mind to thinking deep thoughts.
Here is a sample of her work, and my favorite in this collection. She writes in the poem, [nourish], “I need poetry / because someone is erasing history // I need your stories / our stories / Earth stories and bloodstories / Sea stories and bone stories / carved on our teeth and our cells // I need Great Grandmother stories / and Medicine Man stories // I need the stories of the Wind / and those of the trees / before thee too / are cut down / and disappeared / right before our eye // I need them in my ears / in my chest / I need to swallow them whole / to be tasted over my lifetime // I need to stitch them / into the pockets of my soul / so wherever I travel / I carry them / a part of me // engrave them onto the sky / spell them up out with stars / dig them up out of their graves / whisper them into the rocks // they are trying to unmake history / unraveling the fabric of knowledge / they are unteaching our children / with howllowed out imposters / pretending and whitewashing // look under the carpet / they have swept / all the stories there / locked the door / swallowed the key // I need us-stories / the sustenance of / thriving // I need poetry because / someone / is erasing Truth” (33-34).
Another shorter poem, [flow] reads, “so many bloodstories / they won’t stop / flowing / there is no gauze / no wrap / no salve / to clot the blood // only ink / bleeding into my page / entire lifetimes / within each drop” (30). Another interesting poem [in service of the word] use the title of a book by Natalie Goldberg in the second line. Jenuine writes, “we are / writing down the bones / taking dictation / of their verse / the muse is in our marrow / this poetry / hold us up / gives us our form / our matter / moves us to dancing / holds our grief / like rings on a tree / cycles round and ripe / cut them open / and you will find / all our stories spilling out / the deep red blood of / our throbbing / our thriving” (28).
I have been through this collection slowly over several weeks, and after each reading, the ideas and emotions took shape. As I continued on, I felt those emotions and took them as my own. As a disclaimer, Jenuine is a friend of mine, and I will admit to a swell of hesitation when signed my copy of the book. It is hard to read the work of a friend, and harder still to criticize it. However, these poems are powerful, they are full of emotion, but they are also filled with love for life. And as one critic wrote, “This poet sings with a timeless, soulful lyricism. Bloodstories: A Cycle of 28 Poems by Jenuine Poetess is available through Yellow Chair Press in Waco, TX. 5 stars