I never thought I would write a book about my life. I love reading memoirs and autobiographies about the lives of people I admire, but the idea of telling my own story seemed strange because I never truly felt there was anything remarkable about my life. I have struggled, and I have succeeded, and none of those things seemed inspiring enough to share with others.
But as time went on, I changed my mind. The first autobiography I ever read was Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings which told of the time when she was sexually molested. I was eleven when I read that book and shortly afterwards, I, too, was sexually molested by a family member. The thing that got me through that horrible time in my life was Dr. Angelou’s story. Many times during my childhood, I said to myself, “If Miss Angelou could make it through her tragedy, I can too.”
I even wrote her a letter to tell her thank you for writing such an inspirational book, but I was such an insecure young girl, I was afraid she would reject me, or worse, not even acknowledge my letter, so, I found my daddy’s cigarette lighter, and I went outside and burned the letter I had written to Dr. Angelou, along with some of the other writing I had done that I didn’t deem worthy enough exist in this world anymore. (Yes, I have been fairly dramatic my entire life.) Years later, I got the chance to go and hear Dr. Angelou speak, and even though I was in my thirties, I still felt like an insecure young girl inside, so I didn’t even go up to her to say thank you or take a picture. I still didn’t feel worthy to be in her presence. So, I simply sat and thought to myself, that woman has saved my life time and time again through her words, and she doesn’t even know it.
After Dr. Angelou died, I began to question my fear of writing my own memoir. I started saying to myself, you have a story that others might need to hear so that they, too, can be healed. Because, above all else, I always believed words have the power to transform lives, starting with my own. As I started to look at my life in those terms, I realized, I have a lot to share. I was adopted. I was shown unconditional love by only one of
my adopted parents. I lived through the so-called post-Jim Crow South. I survived mental and physical abuse. I dealt with mental issues, thoughts of suicide, and an overall mistrust of people. I endured a traumatic divorce AND I found love with a man who has spent every day we have been together showing me what love really looks like. All of those things are worth sharing. So, I attempted to write my story in prose form, but I realized that for me, I needed poetry to tell my story right.
Telling my story through poetry gives me a freedom to get close to parts of my life without having to dwell in those moments for extended periods of time. Poetry frees my soul and allows me to distill my emotions into compact literary snapshots. Poetry allows me to access language in ways that I am still attempting in my fiction. So, I finally gave in to the spirits that guide me when I write, and I wrote this collection of poems. My hope is that House Repairs helps others as much as it helped me to write it.
I call this collection House Repairs because life is a continual process of rebuilding, remodeling and re-envisioning ourselves. Sometimes we are in total disrepair and other times we are firm in the foundation we have created for ourselves through the struggles we have had to endure. My hope is that this book will continue to remind me of how far I have come and will remind others that they too can embark on a journey of renewal and healing, and yes, rebuilding.
You can order a copy of House Repairs right now at Amazon. Click here.
Praises for House Repairs:
“I have often said that good poetry makes you think or feel deeply; great poetry makes you do both. And great poetry is not found in lofty ideals like Truth, Nature, God, or Love. It happens where life happens, down in the midst of things, in the spaces between our hearts. Angela Jackson-Brown’s House Repairs, is great poetry. In it you will find what makes poetry necessary. You will find honesty and pain, beauty and atonement in these poems, where the power of strangled and realized possibility sings…”
– Robert Gray
Author of Drew: Poems from Blue Water & Jesus Walks the Southland
“Angela Jackson-Brown offers herself… no, she announces herself to us as Spirit-Woman, and we would do well to heed the histories of hurts and healings woven beautifully and brutally through her poetry. She eviscerates in one three line poem only to coax us back and salve us with long, loving wordstrokes in the next…”
– Colleen S. Harris
Author of The Kentucky Vein, These Terrible Sacraments & God in My Throat: The Lilith Poems
“Early on in this debut collection, Angela Jackson-Brown admits she’s writing from her own life, but that isn’t exactly true. Instead, I would say she’s redefined it – redefining what it is to be black, what it is to be a woman with her real woman’s body, and most of all, what it is to survive in a world that did not always want her and in which she did not always even want her own self…” – Nickole Brown
Author of Sister and Fannie Says: A Biography-in-Poems