Jody A. Zorgdrager

Jody ZorgdragerJody A. Zorgdrager was born in Connecticut, where she received an Individual Artist Grant from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. She earned her B.A. from Colby College and her M.F.A. from the Warren Wilson M.F.A. Program for Writers. Her poetry has been published in Ploughshares, Mid-American Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Sycamore Review, The Antioch Review, and elsewhere. She has worked as a journalist, a teacher, an adjunct faculty member, an addiction coach, and in the medical products industry. Currently, she lives in Seattle and has begun writing short fiction in addition to poetry.

Books by Jody A. Zordrager for the Backwaters Press

Of Consequence Of Consequence by Jody Zorgdrager

Author: Jody Zorgdrager
Format: Paperback, 76 pages
ISBN: 9780979393495
Published: October 2008

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Critical Praise for Of Consequence

Through the dark of childhood and the illness of aging parents, through the mystery of insects and roses and gulls, in places both ordinary and odd, this poet enters beauty-its pain and release-with equal fearlessness.
Marianne Boruch

In Dutch, “Zorgdrager” means “one who carries another’s burdens,” and that notion becomes a principle of poetics in this surprising and fine collection of poems forged from everyday life. Reading, we share in the cruelty of children, the brutality of chemotherapy, and the grace of a routine visit to the dentist. Zorgdrager’s eye consistently transforms ordinary details into matters of consequence, and her voice-intimate, colloquial, genuine-articulates the drama in and beyond small moments. Gorgeously crafted and wise, these are poems to carry and to share.
Julia Kasdorf

What is our destiny and what controls it? In some of these powerfully affective poems, the over-riding factor is character; in others, what we inherit from our ancestors and both are mitigated by happenstance and will. The genre is the dramatic lyric, musical, and driven by an exquisitely fluent syntax. The lens is Time itself, as past and future combine in the dramatic moment to give the largest scope to the lives under this poet’s eye. Paradox is what gives perspective here, and in its mysterious way, offers something like consolation: “most of what we thought we knew/is now reversed, and what once/had seemed absurd, in time, seems normal, / makes sense, becomes our vital miracle . . .”
Steve Orlen

Poems from Jody Zorgdrager’s Of Consequence

Otherwise Safe

From a distance the church like a tiny white replica
of a church in a board game. Inside, the music and music

of coins clattering into brass collection plates—
our cue to Rise and Follow the children’s parade

to the basement where Sunday School lessons were held.
Resisting, at seven, against my father’s admonishing

whisper: If you’re going to stay up here, you have to
sit still
. Still through it all: the long prayer

of the deacon, the musty hymnals’ spines creasing,
the minister intoning words I’d never before heard:

Transgression, Repentance, Redemption. And one I had,
Trinity. Braiding the fringe on my cape, three parts

into one. The napes of men, though redder, squeezed tightly
in their collars, reminding me of skin on the chicken

my mother at home was preparing for dinner. Imagining
my younger brother in the kitchen building block forts

like Jericho’s walls, tumbling them down with his shouts.
Meanwhile, in that basement in a furnace, Shadrach, Meshach

and Abednego not burning in the story told to my sisters
with paper dolls. Scissor-swinging my legs, kicking, ticking

off seconds, minutes, too high to count. Eternity,
the minister saying. My asking my father what that meant.
Infinite, forever, going on and on. Like my own reflection
once in a funhouse mirror, until I couldn’t tell any more

where I began, where I ended.

Preparedness

I heard it first as a rumbling. Others saw it
trouble a skyscraper’s distant wall
of glass windows, like water
a stone’s thrown into. I didn’t
think what I often think I’ll think;
that I’m childless, indebted, and will die
with my life’s ambitions unchecked.
I thought, singularly, this: there’s no way
out but down. I held on.

We all held on,
acquaintances made close, embracing
in the doorframe, a posture we’d feel
foolish about when someone later pointed out
that the beams didn’t even meet the ceiling.
One coworker kept saying no, the way
you’d refuse a teenager’s request
to borrow the car; gently at first but
meaning it each time a little more.
Someone else hid his face.
And I shouted a prayer I’m pretty sure
sounded like blasphemy, unless
you were there.

Within a minute
the planet quit knocking, clocks ended
their suspension, and the city settled back
into an upright position, just like that.
Six weeks after, the elevator, still
un-inspected, sat grounded in its shaft.
By then I could almost last a day
without leaping when trucks lumbered past.
—Although sometimes I’d catch myself
catch my breath in the stairwell where
a fissure five stories tall split the wall
in half, as if to illustrate that chasm
or fine line which separates
not yet from soon.

The Name

Off the Dutch isle of Terschelling together, men
would heave their catch from the North Sea,
their strapping shoulders pumping in the sleet.
When a load’s yield was less than full,
no one’s spirit sagged like the torn net:
this, too, they’d haul to market as their own,
their clogs clopping on cobblestone.

Centuries and countries away, a trace of them
threads like fishing line through my father’s veins.
When a stray branch split and spilled his sack
of leaves, he muttered, “Beast of burden—.”
Only the floorboards creak when he shuffles
down the hall, bearing himself through the night.
“Zorgdrager” means one who carries another’s burdens.
The weight he accepts as inevitable as his name.

Through the dark of childhood and the illness of aging parents, through the mystery of insects and roses and gulls, in places both ordinary and odd, this poet enters beauty-its pain and release-with equal fearlessness.
Marianne Boruch

In Dutch, “Zorgdrager” means “one who carries another’s burdens,” and that notion becomes a principle of poetics in this surprising and fine collection of poems forged from everyday life. Reading, we share in the cruelty of children, the brutality of chemotherapy, and the grace of a routine visit to the dentist. Zorgdrager’s eye consistently transforms ordinary details into matters of consequence, and her voice-intimate, colloquial, genuine-articulates the drama in and beyond small moments. Gorgeously crafted and wise, these are poems to carry and to share.
Julia Kasdorf

What is our destiny and what controls it? In some of these powerfully affective poems, the over-riding factor is character; in others, what we inherit from our ancestors and both are mitigated by happenstance and will. The genre is the dramatic lyric, musical, and driven by an exquisitely fluent syntax. The lens is Time itself, as past and future combine in the dramatic moment to give the largest scope to the lives under this poet’s eye. Paradox is what gives perspective here, and in its mysterious way, offers something like consolation: “most of what we thought we knew/is now reversed, and what once/had seemed absurd, in time, seems normal, / makes sense, becomes our vital miracle . . .”
Steve Orlen

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