Ja’net Danielo is the author of This Body I Have Tried to Write, winner of MAYDAY Magazine‘s 2022 Micro Chapbook Poetry Contest, and The Song of Our Disappearing, a winner of the Paper Nautilus 2020 Debut Series Chapbook Contest. A recipient of a Professional Artist Fellowship from the Arts Council for Long Beach (ACLB) and the Telluride Institute’s Fischer Prize, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in SWWIM Every Day, Parentheses Journal, The Shore, GASHER, Mid-American Review, Radar Poetry, and elsewhere. In 2021, her poem “The Fact of Things” was selected for We Have Always Been Here, a group exhibition on reimagination and restoration at the Arts Council for Long Beach. This year, her poem “Metastasis” will be on display at the Billie Jean King Main Library as part of the ACLB fellows’ exhibition, Impermanence: Stories of Rupture and Repair. Originally from Queens, NY, Danielo teaches at Cerritos College and lives in Long Beach, CA, where she facilitates Word Women, a free virtual poetry workshop and retreat series for women and gender nonbinary writers. You can find more about her and her work at www.jdanielo.com.
Illness, disability, loss, and grief are the predominant themes in my work. I see them not as physical and emotional circumstances that happen to a body but as ever-evolving, often interrelated processes that occur and are held within the body. My poems attempt to examine these processes as well as my relationship to a body that is at once me and seemingly other, a vehicle by which I experience the world and a restraint that limits my experience.
In my current work, the body is at once flesh and machine, danger and desire, an antagonistic force conspiring against us and that to which we are forever bound. It is the physical manifestation of our construction of time. To explore these themes, the poems draw not only from personal struggles but pop culture, science fiction, and the fields of biology, astronomy, botany, etymology, and taxonomy.
Typically, each poem first enters the world as a single line, a pulse. I listen closely, repeat the line in my head over and over again until I am so overcome by its rhythm that I am compelled to capture it on the page. So I jot down random words, ellipses as a way of recording the body’s music. This act, I have found, makes space for language. It comes in drips and drabs, but once I have a skeleton of a poem, I begin to craft lines to reflect that initial rhythm. Always, the goal is to honor the body’s account, its voice. This demands that I read aloud as I write, feel the words with my breath, my eyes, ask myself, Is this what this feels like in my body?
Centering the body–its limitations and possibilities, its transformation, and all the fear and grief that comes with the constant reminder of one’s mortality–my work investigates my relationship to that which I can never return in an attempt to move towards healing, towards a kind of reconciliation.