2017 Gauntlet Participant: Jessica Swafford


“I try to find the truth of a moment or make sense of something that has stuck with me or confused me. I write trying to obtain some sort of explanation for what intrigues, bewilders, or disgusts me. I write until I have an epiphany or until the end product of the poem hits me in the gut. If these things fall into place, the writing will find its audience.”


This Is How I Love Myself

I had a knot

From a fall

Two years ago

It never went away

But crusted over

Barnacles on a hull

I scrubbed it with soap

Caressed it with lotion

Hid it with sleeves

It is only recently

That it has shown improvement

I smothered it with acid

Scales falling away

It is nearly gone

Except for a heart-shape place

This is how I love myself

Not the preservation

Of what is there

But the destruction

Of the parts

I can no longer

Stand to look at



Jessica Swafford is a poet and mixed media artist from Georgetown, Kentucky. She has been published in several journals including The Heartland Review, Inscape, Pollen, and The Georgetown Review as well as the anthologies, & Grace and Her Limestone Bones. She was a 2016 Top 10 finalist for The Gravity of the Thing’s Six Word Story Contest. She was also the winner of the 2014 May B. Smith Essay Competition. Most recently her work was included in A BROAD Perspective, part of the BROADS United movement. She is currently participating in The Gauntlet, a yearlong generative writing workshop.

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