Recently, I found some old college poetry and began to wonder what the early work of other writers might be like. So I launched this Throwback Writing series.
This week, I’m so happy to feature a wonderful writer and wonderful person, Jackie Cioffa. Jackie is an essayist and novelist, and I always look forward to reading the new things she writes. Today, however, we look back on two poems she wrote in high school.
Let’s start with an intro by Jackie:
Here are some poems from my high school literary magazine, Mind’s Eye. And backstory.
I was a terribly insecure teenager trying to find my way, how to fit in by acting out. The classic, 80s teen angst and John Hughes crazy character, wracked with insecurity. (Who wasn’t or isn’t living their own form of adolescent hell now?) I changed the spelling of my name to Jaci, (cringe worthy; what the hell was I thinking?). I crimped & dyed my BIG hair, wore neon tights, rosary beads, and crosses alla Madonna and combat boots in an effort to be seen, and at the same time, invisible.
The creative writing classes saved me daily, and were one of the few fond memories I have from high school. Finding a tribe amongst the freaks and geeks who were uniquely different, seeking something meaningful through their voices. I felt an immense sense of pride and joy being ‘published’, seeing my words in print. That feeling and sense of accomplishment hasn’t changed.
Thirty years later, my mom pulls out the newsletter I’d long forgotten. She’d tucked it away in a drawer for safekeeping, perhaps with a foresight I didn’t have back then. I’d hightailed it, traveled the globe, the gypsy desperate to expand my horizons and my own Mind’s Eye, only to return home again. It would take many years, mishaps, misfortunes and luck before I found my way back to the words. They have always been my freest and truest form of self-expression.
If we’re lucky enough to keep our hearts and minds open, we’ll have more layers to paint the canvas. Our stories are forever evolving. And that is mad cool.
And now, the poems:
I don’t know about you, but when I read Jackie’s poems, I’m transported back to a time when I was also insecure and trying to figure out my role in this world. And as a mother of two teenagers, I feel a bit more connected to them after reading these poems. So thank you so much for sharing, Jackie! You’re brave to be my first guest!
As for the series, I welcome additional submissions. The only rules are that the writing–poetry or prose–must be from your early days of writing, and the work must make you cringe at least a little. Please send your early writing to email@example.com
—————————————————————————————————-Jacqueline Cioffa was an international model for 17 years and a celebrity makeup artist. She is a dog lover, crystal collector, and Stone Crab enthusiast. Her work has been featured in the anthology Brainstorms and numerous literary magazines. Living with manic depression, Jacqueline is an advocate for mental health awareness. She’s a storyteller, observer, essayist, potty mouth, and film lover who’s traveled the world.
Her poignant, literary fiction debut, The Vast Landscape, gives new meaning to intense, raw and heartfelt. Fans of the emotional, soul stirring first novel will not be able to put the exciting sequel, Georgia Pine, down.
The essence continues because you do. Harrison leaves the door open a crack. I seize the opportunity to revisit my whole, healthy self a bit longer, live in the mystic beach home I adore, dream eyes open. Hope is our greatest asset. To choose hope against the worst possible odds is the true measure of life.
~ Georgia Pine by Jacqueline Cioffa
Look for Jackie’s new column, “Bleeding Ink” on Feminine Collective.
You can see the contradictions of emotions which are so much a part of teenage life. I’m glad your mom saved these poems, Jaci! (Jaci is much more civilized than some of my teen names – like Janet Jo)
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Thank you so much, Jan! I’m glad you like the poems. The emotional rollercoaster of trying to find your unique way of expressing your teenage self, what a ride. I’m happy to see we’ve both evolved, Janet Jo. 🙂
I LOVE Janet Jo, Jan! And yes, I agree, the teenage contradictions of emotions are so evident here. Like going into a time capsule and saying, “wait, I didn’t remember it being like this…but oh yeah! It was just like this.”
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I jumped at the chance when I heard you were hosting the Throwback Series, Mary. Thank you for having me, and my EMO teen self. On a serious note, finding a way of expressing yourself is a complex process, and it’s nice to revisit the past to, and check in with your younger self.
Thank you for having me. X Jaci
P.S. We may have a nickname series in the works. *wink*
P.P.S. Typo… my grammar still needs some work. Back to class? XO
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