Words. Thought. Language. I often wonder where we would be without these things. Even with a decent vocabulary it’s hard to find ways to express yourself properly sometimes, or describe something perfectly. I love words. They are a part of almost every moment of our day – from the audible curse at your alarm clock to the last thing you think before you drift off to sleep. Sometimes they are beautiful, sometimes they are cruel, and sometimes they don’t make any sense at all. They shape who we are, and in turn I like to shape them back.
My name is Jessica Fizzell, though I go by “J.L. Fizzell” in the literary world. I’ve been writing poetry since I was eleven or twelve. It was love from the moment my pencil hit the paper. That love grew pretty quickly when the very first poem I ever wrote was published and given an award for “best poem on the theme of the environment”. I’ll have to remember to share it with you at some point. In any case, I can still picture the lanky awkward blonde kid that was me, shaking like a leaf and stumbling over my words when they asked me to read my poem in front of the entire school. I’m still very much the same awkward blonde 15 odd years later, but I’ve found a way to work it into my charm alongside some serious sarcasm, and some of the best food you’ll ever eat (just ask my friends).
What I’m hoping as I keep venturing down my path as an author and a poet is to generate more of an appreciation for poetry. I’m not going to lie, even as someone who has been writing poetry for most of her life, I still catch myself thinking of stuffy jumbles of words that don’t make sense from people long gone when someone mentions the word. Alternatively, my head goes in a different direction entirely and pictures the “emo kid” decked out in black, writing about how much the world sucks. It wasn’t until this Christmas when I saw r.h. sin’s “whiskey words & a shovel” that I noticed that poetry’s reputation as “coded nonsense” or “the musings on an emo kid” had started to change. I was over the moon. Since that moment I’ve gone to collect well over 30 poetry books this year from some really talented folk, in addition to writing three of my own. I’ll be off to Sault Ste Marie this coming weekend as a featured author in the Northern Ontario Book Fair – not bad for a once upon a time kid that inaudibly speed read a full page poem in front of a bunch of kids who were all daydreaming about recess.
I’m excited to see what this journey brings. My writing over the years have been a series of poems that were written whenever inspiration struck or a few poems for the guy(s) that I was dating. It wasn’t until the fall of 2017 when my world went up in smoke that I truly realized the power of words. I had a broken relationship of almost seven years teetering in the balance, and the guy in question broke himself rolling our car across the highway six times. Everything changed. It was hell and everything I could do to make it through the work day, often hiding in my office wiping away tears before heading out to meet with some of the sweetest kids you’ll ever meet (Side note: I work in children’s mental health). I’ve long been using “the arts” as a means to help kids express themselves and cope with the demands and pressures of life. It’s one of my favourite tools short of wanting to take them all on a daily nature walks (they’re great for reflection, grounding and so many other things). It didn’t take long to make the connection that every time I had was having trouble with something, I should write about it. With inspiration from one of my most beautiful friends (and tonne of encouragement from a select few souls) it became the basis of my first book “Icarus, Anchors, & You”.
I was determined to write until it stopped hurting; and let me tell you, each poem was a surge of relief. All of the weight of those words were gone and in front of me – like unloading a backpack full of stones to take a better look at them. Poem by poem I started to see the strength that I had, as well as a clearer picture of who I was and what I wanted. It was motivating – something no self help book or counseling session has ever come close to. It was even more rewarding having people tell me that my words had helped them through a tough time, and other people admired my “tenacity”. I help people for a living, and knowing that you’re making a difference is a brilliant feeling that never ever gets old. Knowing that my words were helping people pulled me further into the world of words.
So here we are, coming to the end of my first blog post as a poet though I feel I could have written a whole book about why poetry is amazing. At its core, poetry is art; but to me, it is so much more. It heals, it inspires, it clarifies it validates, it acknowledges, it create beauty in mere syllables and when you read it there is a feeling of knowing that you are not alone in your experiences. I’ve included links on my page for you to check out some of my work, follow me on Facebook, Instagram and hopefully find the beauty in words.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton