Ja’net Danielo is the author of The Song of Our Disappearing, co-winner of the Paper Nautilus 2020 Debut Series Chapbook Contest. A recipient of a Professional Artist Fellowship from the Arts Council for Long Beach, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Superstition Review, The Shore, GASHER, Mid-American Review, Radar Poetry, Gulf Stream, Frontier Poetry, and elsewhere. Originally from Queens, NY, she teaches at Cerritos College and lives in Long Beach, CA with her husband and her dog. You can find her at www.jdanielo.com.
Always, for me, the first sign that a poem is brewing is an image, a sound—something that haunts. My work seeks to free these elements from their original contexts and re-imagine them in a new landscape, a space where I can examine what scares me, breaks me, keeps me, a tiny world in which I can be made whole again. The process of inhabiting this space typically begins with a single line or phrase, a music I follow to the page. Then I wait. Poems often come slowly, in drips and drabs, so I write whatever parts I can over weeks, months, sometimes, years. I do this in between grading papers for my classes, sending e-mails to colleagues, commuting on the bus to and from work. In my experience, poems arrive more organically if I invite them into the folds of my daily life.
My most recent work is inspired by a series of life events that have not only forced me to confront my own mortality but have also placed me in a liminal space of shifting identity, where my relationship to myself and my memories is no longer clearly defined. My poems explore this very normal existential crisis and the dark terrain of memory—what we remember and why, memory’s unreliable nature, how it’s rooted in place, and the role it plays in shaping our identities. I am concerned with classifying, naming what feels “unnameable”—that which lies at the intersection of the complex emotions attached to experience.