TJ Jarrett: Stronger Than The Storm

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I am astounded by Ms. Jarrett; although Jarrett works in the technical realm of software development, she possesses an uncanny ability to wield words in such a fashion that the reader is left with a sweet ache around their soul. A Nashville native, TJ Jarrett was blessed into a family headed by a professor and a pastor. She has since received scholarships from Colrain Manuscript Conference and Sewanee Writer’s Conference. Her debut book of poems, Ain’t No Grave, was published a mere two weeks ago, while her forthcoming book, Zion, will be available in the autumn of 2014.

When the Sun Nears the Earth

in the West

we chase it.  The ghosts follow, followed then
by the dark.  It has come to my attention that it is possible,

due to recent technological advances, to live only
in sun.  You could fuel mid-air if you like; you could simply

quit the earth.  Someone could do that.  That someone
could be you.  You could read this and nod, yes, yes.  Take me to a

place without darkness.  It would be unwriterly for me to do so.
Worse— Irresponsible.  Uncharitable.  Let me tell you how

to withstand the dark: The dark will go on only as long
as you let it.  You must forgive the dark.  It never takes you

into account.  Forgive the earth that bears the dark
on its back.  Forgive then, the ghosts you carry.  Touch them

on the cheek tenderly, each one, and send them on ahead
of you.  Forgive the stars their disinterested twinkling.  Forgive the

air and trees.  You will experience weightlessness.  Forgive
the gravity that holds you.  Behold the spinning earth.  Choose.
———————————————————————————————

As Jean Valentine remarked in a blurb about Jarrett’s Ain’t No Grave, I too can now agree: “I was more lonely before I heard this voice.” For me, Jarrett’s works fill a new place in my poet-soul: a place that is as wise as it is fresh, and as lovely as it is upsetting. Her language is direct and modern, but the words quickly move the reader to “nod” when prompted and to breathe forgiveness when given the choice. In a moment as simple as a sunset, Jarrett first prods the reader to consider if one believes that technology can relieve burdens. But then she soothingly reminds the reader that the choice “to live only/ in sun,” can be found within one’s self and the ability to extend grace to the specific occurrences of the days. In between the perceptive lines, I hear her whispering, “Don’t fear the difficulty, don’t fear the darkness, don’t fear the pain–because you are already free. Just choose.”

To experience Jarrett’s readings in person, carve out time to see her at the Downtown Nashville Southern Festival of Books in two weeks or in the intimate setting of Poet’s Corner at the Scarritt-Bennett Center on October 24th @ 7pm. For poems, interviews, and praise try these links, and for Jarrett’s quips, you can find the poet on Twitter.

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