In a culture that benefits greatly from the psychological, emotional, occupational, and even physical fragmentation of its citizens, seeking and striving for integration is an extremely radical act. Integration, for me, is when all areas of my life can exist within the same value system. Integration is when everything I do feels like it is authentically mine and not a behavior or belief that has been thrust upon me by some external entity that I have not bothered questioning. Integration is accepting and attending to everything that I am instead of denying certain parts of myself because other folks (or I...) can't make them make sense together (poet & personal trainer, for example). This website is a commitment to my continued striving for integration. I am all (or at least, most) of the things I am here, not just one piece.
I've never been comfortable with the word, "academic" as a personal descriptor. Why? Despite many many obstacles, I pursued and completed a BA, an MA, an MFA and am now currently working toward my PhD. I've even been teaching in higher education for 21 years at this point so, by the very definition of the word, I AM, in fact, an academic. But as a first-generation college student, told by her own father that "girls don't go to college" and her own mother that she was an "intellectual snob," who comes from a LONG line of blue collar workers, "academic" seemed like a dangerous level of intellectual snobbery that might get me kicked out of the tribe. Above all, to stay in the tribe, I had to stay as humble as possible -- and if I could be self-denigrating, even better! Still, denying my "academic" nature or denying that I am actually an "academic" for these reasons, is a kind of fragmentation -- a fragmentation I've been navigating for most of my life.
So, when I asked my husband what adjective I should use before "academic" on the main page of this website, I was thinking something like "reluctant" or "accidental" but he said, "relentless" and boy did that not only feel spot on, it also felt integral. I AM a relentless academic. Because no matter how many people in -- and out of -academia have told me I shouldn't, I can't, I don't belong, I'm not welcomed... I've kept on studying. After getting two Master's degrees, I even went back and got an Associate's in my spare time just to keep my sanity because learning -- particularly the type of learning that takes place in an academic setting (though I am fond of ALL modes of learning) -- is integral to who I am. Finally embracing that, owning that and allowing space for that, unapologetically, helps me become more integrated, less fragmented and less likely to be taken for a ride by a culture that requires me to believe lies about who I am and what I'm allowed to become.
7/20/2021 08:00:59 pm
Wow. Thanks for this. I can’t wait for more as I welcome my own Relentless and Radical Integration.
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JodiAnn Stevenson lives in the U.S., in the Northwest Corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, on The Big Lake. Her writing has appeared in numerous venues since 1996. She is the author of three published chapbooks of poetry: The Procedure (March Street Press, 2006); Houses Don’t Float (Habernicht Press, 2010); and Diving Headlong Into A Cliff of Our Own Delusion (Saucebox, 2011). Her mixed-genre work Marina Abramovic Is My Mother is available in the form of a short-run podcast. She has also produced eight chapbooks of poetry for The Broken Nose Collective which she co-founded in 2013. JodiAnn was founder and co-managing editor of the feminist micro-press, Binge Press and its sister journal, 27 rue de fleures, from 2004 until 2017.
A (more or less) complete list of publications and appearances:
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