Can't Be Taken

Empty.

Photo Credit: Keoni Cabral via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Keoni Cabral via Compfight cc

Tia Jensen‘s essay, “Empty,” the Nonfiction Finalist for New Southerner‘s Literary Prize Edition, covers issues too many writers shy away from. With restraint and visceral detail, she paints a picture of suffering through hunger, poverty, and parental abuse free from self-loathing or self-pity. Her factual account is as powerful as her ownership of her own body. Jensen’s intense, brave honestly is both breathtaking and heartbreaking.

She writes:

I was hungry. Ramen noodles were not available in Kentucky until I was in high school. Daddy would boil them for an hour, ’til they softened, expanded, swelled. He’d toss the water out, add spice last. Shared with four people, one packet never enough. We ate sticks of butter for snacks; not the real kind—government issued. My great grandmother received rations; Alma didn’t cook, didn’t butter, gave the useless to us. This imitation butter—cheap, oily—filled empty hollows, made our gurgling quieter. It stopped our asking. I preferred wild onions from the yard. Daddy, dead now, would hurt if he read this. He worked three jobs, but when I was little, growing, always wanting, never full enough, I noticed when I was empty.

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3 replies »

  1. Reblogged this on Lisa Lanser Rose and commented:

    Tia Jensen‘s essay, “Empty,” the Nonfiction Finalist for New Southerner‘s Literary Prize Edition, covers issues too many writers shy away from. With restraint and visceral detail, she paints a picture of suffering through hunger, poverty, and parental abuse free from self-loathing or self-pity. Her factual account is as powerful as her ownership of her own body. Jensen’s intense, brave honestly is both breathtaking and heartbreaking.

  2. Reblogged this on My Writer's Blog (or block) and commented:
    Raw and honest. Very few writers indeed have the courage to write so candidly and vividly about such topics. Embarking on my own personal journey into the blogging world has forced me to confront several issues about the direction of my writing and myself as a writer. I’ve been censoring myself and my work product has indeed suffered. You cannot write while shackled to the wall of political correctness and fear…fear of writing with such brutal honesty. Jensen’s piece is both frightening, inspiring, humbling, and real. I hope that through these forthcoming publicly visible writing exercises, I can find my voice as writer again.