Jennifer Jean, MFA Poetry '01

Read Jennifer Jean's interview, "Shaping Writing: Why Mental Illness Doesn't Guarantee Good Poetry" with Kathleen Spivack featured in Talking Writing Magazine.

Jennifer Jean

Jennifer Jean is the author of The Fool (Big Table, 2013). Her chapbooks include: The Archivist (Big Table, 2011), Fishwife (Whale Sound Press, 2011), and In the War (Big Table, 2010). She’s also released Fishwife Tales, a collaborative CD comprised of art songs and accompanied recitations. Her book reviews, essays, and poems have appeared in: Drunken Boat, Denver Quarterly, Tidal Basin Review, Caketrain, Poets/Artists, Poetica, Mass Poetry, The Mom Egg Review, and more. Her poetry has been anthologized in: Veils, Halos & Shackles: International Poetry on the Abuse & Oppression of Women, and Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora in the United States and Canada: an Anthology. She’s won awards from the Seonghwa International Poetry Competition, Curtain Up! Art Song Awards, and the Academy of American Poets. Jennifer blogs for Amirah, a non- profit advocacy group for sex-trafficking survivors; she is a principal organizer of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival; and, she teaches writing and literature at Salem State University.

I really want to thank Saint Mary’s—I had a wonderful experience attending the school and earning my MFA in Poetry from 2000-2001. All my books and CDs contain poems, notions, and threads first conceived and nurtured while earning my degree. I remember writing “gifts for future Fishwife fish” in Al Young’s class after he asked us to listen to a bit of Ella Fitzgerald scatting. This was also around the time that I began the sequence of monologues that would become The Archivist. In my full-length book The Fool there are poems which recall conversations on craft in several MFA classes, and during impromptu get- togethers afterward; for instance, this line is from that time: “Why poetry? Because content needs form./ And form needs attention.” Credit for all this good, lasting effect goes to the core and visiting staff that were uniformly lovely, supportive, and talented. Without, these folks—especially Brenda Hillman—I don’t think I would have developed, on my own, the kind of attentive relationship to language that I now try to continuously cultivate in my writing. 

Jennifer's News
  • Read Jennifer Jean's interview "Shaping Writing: Why Mental Illness Doesn't Guarantee Good Poetry" with Kathleen Spivack featured in Talking Writing Magazine.
  • Check out Jennifer's new poem, "bird" in Rattle magazine, including Timothy Green's interview with her in the September issue of Rattle Magazine.
  • Jennifer has been announced as one of the finalists for the first annual Green Mountain Review book prize. Stay updated with the review to see if Jennifer's poetry novel, "Object" wins the GMR book prize!
  • Jennifer's poem "Bird" is featured in Rattle. Congrats Jennifer, it's a beautiful poem.
  • Jennifer is the new Administrative Editor for Talking Writing Magazine! Check out their latest issue here.
  • Jennifer Jean is teaching Free2Write poetry workshops to human-trafficking survivors. Check out their fundraising page