Jennifer K. Sweeney's "Adolescence"

August 3, 2010

On August 1st, this past Sunday, there was a poetry reading at Woman Made Gallery
in Chicago, curated by Nina Corwin and in partnership with WBEZ's Chicago
Amplified Series. Participating readers included Robin Behn, Lucia Blinn,
Kimberly Dixon, Simone Muench, Jennifer K. Sweeney, and Connie Voisine. During
the reading, Jennifer K. Sweeney read her poem "Adolescence," part of which
contains a story about a middle school student jumping from a second-story

At 22, I accepted a job teaching junior high.
Not far enough away from the hollow years
of my own shifting body, the seventh and eighth-grade girls,
slight and doe-sprung, drifted down wide industrial
hallways, bones jutting sideways from their skin.
One girl chose my second-story classroom
from where we’d see her fall past the window

The audience was mesmerized. It's rare to feel the audience holding its
collective breath at a poetry reading, but . . . there you go. James Cihlar
recently reviewed HOW TO LIVE ON BREAD AND MUSIC (Perugia Press, 2009). Read
the review here.

BIO: Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of two poetry collections, most recently,
How to Live on Bread and Music (Perugia Press, 2009), winner of the 2009 James
Laughlin Award[1] and the 2009 Perugia Press Prize. Her first collection, Salt
Memory (Main Street Rag, 2006) won the 2006 Main Street Rag Poetry Award. Her
poems have appeared in journals and magazines including Southern Review, Hunger
Mountain, Crab Orchard, Spoon River and Passages North, where she won the 2009
Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize. Her honors include a Cultural Equities Grant from
the San Francisco Arts Commission and a residency from Hedgebrook. Sweeney holds
an M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Arts and serves as assistant editor for
DMQ Review. Born in 1973, she grew up in Tolland, Connecticut. After teaching in
San Francisco for twelve years, she currently lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with
her husband, poet Chad Sweeney.[2]

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