Sundress Publications is pleased to announce the release of Jennifer Jackson Berry’s chapbook, When I Was a Girl, which was the runner-up in last year’s Sundress Chapbook Contest.
Jennifer Jackson Berry’s latest chapbook When I Was A Girl is a powerful collection of poems that dares to take readers back to the puzzles and insecurities of adolescence. The poems travel chronologically from age eleven to college, each describing a feeling, circumstance or concept through a specific age lens.
This chapbook will unsettle readers, and yet somehow generate nostalgia for the everyday miseries of growing up. Berry is unafraid to be visceral, and she has a knack for being fantastically minimalist. One of the poems is over fifty words long, and yet only uses six different words.
The poems are often breathless, and filled with insatiable urgency. She balances the naivety of youth with the hindsight of adulthood when she writes iconic lines like “I really did know johnny in the summers,” and “stupid were: girls who believed adjectives.” In fact, an ongoing theme in this chapbook is adolescent understanding of adjectives.
Berry turns childhood games on their head through her depiction of a young mind struggling to make sense of perceived societal expectations. Most of all, Berry’s poems follow the generation of adult yearnings that begin in youth. This is a chapbook for anyone who has ever grown up, and wants to remember with precise, often uncomfortable certainty, exactly what it was like.
Jennifer Jackson Berry lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and works as a claims adjuster for a mass transit bus line. She has taught high school English, as well creative writing and composition at the post-secondary level. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Stone Highway Review, 5AM, Main Street Rag, Jet Fuel Review, Amethyst Arsenic, and Mead, among others. She is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications, forthcoming in 2013) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press, 2003). She holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Indiana University’s MFA program. She is an active member of the Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange.