Saturday is for Sharing
Jessica Goody, Author
July 21, 2018
SCAN is hosted by
Miss Opal & Lynda McKinney Lambert.
If you are NEW to SCAN, we recommend: Just SCAN it!
Contact Jessica at PinnipedPerson@aol.com
Jessica’s first collection of poetry is
a full-length, 115-page volume
75 poems divided into a 3 sections:
Part 1 – “Being Handicapped”
Part 2 – “Green Sentinels”
Part 3 – “Other Voices”
Q: Jessica, tell us about how you began to write your first book. Please elect one page you have written that sums it all up for our readers. Tell us about that page you selected.
A: Storytelling influences every aspect of my life. I’m not sure why I gravitated to poetry instead of another type of literature, but I have always loved language and playing with words. When I was eight years old, I told my grandfather that I would dedicate my first book to him–and I kept my promise.
The poems in Defense Mechanisms were written over a nine month period; it took another four years of effort before the book was finally accepted by a publisher in 2016. My second poetry collection, Phoenix, will be released by ‘WordTech Publications’ CW Books in March 2019.
The opening poem of Defense Mechanisms, “The Mermaid,” is by far the most personal; I call it an allegorical autobiography.
The mermaid wears a mask. Tubes drift from
her nostrils, linking her to an oxygen machine.
She relies asthmatically on artificial air, fluid
dripping wetly into her nasal passages. The air
she breathes is blue and cool; she cannot adjust
to the smog ashore. They have performed every
test, gluing wires to her chest, her tail, her skull.
They have EKG’d her cold-blooded heartbeat, MRI’d
and scanned, her silhouette glowing with radiation.
Surgeons in white deftly wield gleaming scalpels.
They have stitched her gills shut, and scraped the
barnacles from her shoulder blades. Round, puckered
scars remain, in the spot where earlier that morning,
an angel had her wings removed. You have to stare
to see the scars hidden beneath her Technicolor hair,
the ones from when they drained her brain, swollen
with seawater. They will fade eventually, to the color
of a crab carapace, abandoned and bleached by the sun.
The orthopedist traces her bone scan with his finger
as he talks: her knees are twisted, kissing instead
of facing forward. Her joints push and tug toward
one another in a scissors gait. Removed from the
succoring ocean, her skin is dull and roughened,
her sloughing scales losing their gleam. They plan
to surgically remove her tail and outfit her with
prosthetic legs, carving away her aqueous identity.
Out of water, she cannot walk, cannot stand.
Dragging along the dun-colored corridor, she
is floppy, uncoordinated, her tail hanging limply
from the wheelchair seat. Draped in the shapeless
hospital gown, her previously tangled hair now
shorn, she cannot make them understand that
her body was not made for life on land. They fill
her with electricity, with distilled stars. The names
of the pills are elaborate, like the Latin names of
seashells: Thorazine, Lithium, Stelazine, Sertraline.
She feels heavy, leaden, like she is floating. It
is not a kind sensation. She is unwilling to be
swept out to their psychopharmalogical sea.
She wants to go home. “You do not come from
the sea,” the psychiatrists say. They attempt
to hypnotize the truth out of her, to smear it
from her mind, the way the sea smooths away
words scratched into damp sand. “Delusional,”
they say. “Psychotic features represented by
hallucinations. She believes she is a mermaid,
a mythological creature.” According to their
files, the manila folders of endless prescriptions
and transcripts of talk-therapy sessions, she
does not exist. According to them, she is an
impossibility, a figment. But she must be real,
they have seen her, touched her. How long
will they keep her here? She is drifting like
the seasons. Away from the sea, she cannot
hear its call, only gaze at the topaz eye of the
changeling moon from her glassless window,
straining towards the ebb and flow of the tide.
Q: What discourages you most in your writing endeavors? What do you find inspiring about your writing?
A: I think the hardest part is getting people interested in what you have to say. Success is about perseverance; stubborn bulldog persistence despite thousands of let-downs, rejections, and wounds to your pride. If you are truly meant to be a writer, or any kind of artist, that is the first thing you must learn. There are plenty of clever, talented people out there who don’t have what it takes, not because their work isn’t good enough, or because they don’t work at it, but because they can’t take the rejection, so they give up. It is never easy, but it is worth it.
When someone appreciates my work because they relate to it, having shared the same experiences, it creates a kinship between reader and writer. I believe that well-chosen words are the greatest agents of change; they provide hope to the suffering and clarity to the misguided. Defense Mechanisms provides both, offering its readers glimpses of meaningful lives and exploring what it means to be fully human.
Q: Do you have a handicap of some sort? How does that handicap affect your life and what you do? How can you overcome that handicap? What do you want another person to know about this handicap and about you as a writer?
A: I have cerebral palsy, and the public perception of disability and the many aspects of living with a handicap are topics I frequently explore in my work. Anyone who struggles with mental health issues or physical challenges will be able to relate to my experiences, because the theme of Defense Mechanisms is Hope–the triumph over pain and trauma and the resilience of the human spirit.
I am very used to talking about my issues, and therefore very open about them in my writing. What some people consider depressing, I consider honest, and these topics should not be avoided because of their intensity. My goal is to provide a thought-provoking and inspirational experience for every interested reader, and to help them better understand what it’s like to live with disabilities.
Q: Do you have a favorite art museum or gallery that you enjoy visiting? Or, any special exhibition you have attended that was remarkable? What art movement throughout history do you like the best and why?
A: I am endlessly fascinated by art, history, and the natural world, and all three deeply influence my writing. I am always inspired by the lives and exploits of artists, like the Beats, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Bloomsbury Group. I love museums, but I don’t have a particular favorite. Since I tend to think in images, a lot of my poetry is inspired by artwork.
In Defense Mechanisms, “Stockings” was inspired by the photographer Dorothea Lange’s 1934 portrait “Mended Stockings”. Another ekphrastic poem, “Transcendence”, was inspired by Walker Evans’ WPA photography. My forthcoming collection Phoenix features numerous odes to artists of every stripe–writers, actors, painters and musicians.
Q: Do you have a favorite animal? What do you like about it? How is it a totem to you? When did you become aware of that special creature in your life?
A: When I was little and learning to crawl, my grandmother remarked that my movements resembled a baby seal. It’s a story–and a symbol–that has followed me all my life. My favorite stuffed animal was a seal named Seabert, who became my best friend and good-luck charm in a childhood spent among doctors, hospitals, and therapists.
I have always been drawn to the ocean. For most of my life I intended to become a marine biologist, and although my physical limitations prevented me from realizing that dream, I am an environmentalist, and much of my poetry is inspired by nature–especially the sea.
Jessica’s Final Comment
Terrific questions! Very thought-provoking.
Jessica, I want to share another powerful poem from your book.
This is one of my personal favorites in the collection. I can only say to our readers,
“PLEASE BUY JESSICA’S BOOK.” I promise, you will love it!
Through the rain-streaked windows
the Christmas lights are a gleaming
blur. The colors stretch and streak,
lighting the sodden trees with their
festive glow. They resemble flashing
tropical fish swimming in the blind
eye of the windowpane. The water-
darkened trees resemble me, tilted,
twisted, bent, their fallen leaves
stretching like frightened animals.
A row of lightning scars the sky,
flashing like neon and fading in an
instant, a metallic crow’s caw in the
blackness of the storm-darkened sky.
Jessica Goody’s Contacts on Social Media
Book Title: Defense Mechanisms: Poems on Life, Loss, and Love
Award-winning author of Defense Mechanisms
Available now on Amazon: www.JessicaGoody.com
Phosphene Publishing: http://www.phosphenepublishing.com/goody-jessica
Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright July 21, 2018. All rights reserved.
Saturday is for Sharing, a series of Guest Authors & Artists
Presented by Lynda and Miss Opal, her feline writing partner. Lynda and Miss Opal live in rural western Pennsylvania in The Village of Wurtemburg. Miss Opal has a sister-cat named Miss Bessie. The two were rescued from Southern Ohio along with their mother, Miss Effie Pearl, and their 2 brothers, Diamond and Peachy Keen.
Lynda is married to Bob Lambert and the couple have 5 grown children. These days, Bob & Lynda share their home with 2 rescued dogs; Miss Mitchell and Miss Dixie Tulip. In addition to the 2 cats, they also care for any number of feral cats who may drop by for food & shelter eacy day. Lynda is a retired professor of fine arts and humanities, and she is a fiber artist and author. she holds 3 degrees: BFA and MFA in painting; MA in English. Lynda is a retired professor of fine arts and humanities from Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA. She writes and makes art in her River Road Studio. Lynda lost her sight in 2007 due to Ischemic Optic Neuropathy.
Lynda is the author of 2 published books:
Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage Buy it!
Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems Buy it!
Lynda just completed her 3rd book
Star Signs: New & Selected Poems – 60 poems
AND her FIRST CHAPBOOK
first snow, 16 Poems with a Wintry Theme.
Both new books are now available for publication. Editors, please contact Lynda for the manuscript.
~Thank you for visiting with us today~
Miss Opal and Lynda McKinney Lambert