People turn to poetry for any number of reasons, but most look to our art when in the throes of extreme emotion – as comfort in response to a loss, to dramatically coax or celebrate love, or to lend strength during trying situations. Because poetry is mostly my day job, maybe it makes sense that I have inverse longings. I'm often moved more by the poem that can shock me into a new awareness of everyday existence than the poem that's built to commemorate.
Jonterri Gadson's poems are earthbound, with a compelling practicality, but Gadson lives in the visceral. Her poems are emotionally intense, but they're always rooted. Gadson uses highly controlled lines and stanzas as counterpoint to the vicious, the sensual, and the furious. The power of feeling she lends the everyday continually amazes: see for yourself.
The poem below first appeared in Callaloo.
When the sow doesn’t refuse them her sequence of teats.
When her swollen, spotted body, bristles spearing mud, permits
a dozen snouts’ pressure burrowing beneath her--
unapologetic litter of grunts, hungry self-serving soldiers,
cacophonous squeals urging over, over.
Not to protect her face from their hooves,
but that she could crush them, we pen her in. Narrow.
Leave only enough room for her to lay down.
When she doesn’t, in a quiet rage, slaughter them herself
she suffers each unrelenting mouth, she sates our wild expectations.
Jonterri Gadson is the author of the chapbook, Pepper Girl (YesYes Books, 2012). She is the recipient of scholarships/fellowships from Bread Loaf, Cave Canem, and the University of Virginia's Creative Writing MFA program. Her poetry is forthcoming or published in Los Angeles Review, Callaloo, The Collagist, Anti-, PANK and other journals. She currently serves as the Herbert W. Martin Post-Graduate Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Dayton in Ohio.