Writing as Body as Poem

Jessica Lee McMillan is an emerging poet who likes crooked, shiny things. She has been published or is forthcoming in journals across Canada and the US including Blank SpacesPocket LintGoat’s Milk MagazinePinhole Poetry, Tiny Spoon, The South Shore Review, Blue Heron Review and Dream Pop Journal. Her work explores architectures of perception and she is working on her first collection on this theme. Jessica lives in New Westminster, British Columbia on stolen lands of the Coast Salish and Halkomelem-speaking Peoples, in particular, the QayQayt and Kwikwetlem First Nations. jessicaleemcmillan.com Twitter: JessicaLeeMcM

In an inscription of Songs of Innocence and ExperienceJessica’s high school literature teacher called her a mystic. Unfortunately, Jessica’s rebellious nature sent her from the room crying one day. Mrs. Lauber would never learn Jessica got a Masters in English and how vital poetry would become to her. Or maybe she knew all along.

Read Jessica’s work in this issue:

The Body Is a Fantastical Story / Steep your Verse

Jessica says: When writing meta poems, I try to remember the body and the physical world provide a locus for examining several thresholds of possibility. Too often we spatialize the term “meta” as floating in the stratosphere when it is rather the blood or the ink of the word. The inextricability of body and text especially fascinates and grounds me. When you break down the word, you open another gateway. When you locate a poem in the body, you have a different level of interaction. The production of art about art is the dialogue we are having with possibility and allows us to look beyond the conventions we use and take for granted.

Currently I am working on a poetry collection about our shifting perceptual fields— from cellular to planetary— including the influence of language and poetic form. When we make art that calls attention to the process, we shift our perspective and create a dialectic. Jeanette Winterson‘s metafiction bends worlds at the level of physical law and foregrounds the freedom in art that plays with its own devices. 

When we call attention to our process, we invite readers to question the frameworks we use in language and poetry. It can be destabilizing and a place of growth. I like to think that the leftovers of creation—that what we have called attention to—is inviting the reader to co-author the joy and despair of world-making.


Riddled with Arrows 5.2: “Spotlight 2022”
Foreword | Contributors
Meet the Features | Meet the Work
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Jessica would like to spotlight:
The David Suzuki Foundation a national, bilingual non-profit organization that works to conserve and protect the natural environment, and help create a sustainable Canada
The Black Obituary Project, a collaborative, Black undertaking designed to convey the reality of state-sanctioned violence and its residual impact ~

The On Canada Project, which harnesses the combined potential of young people, volunteerism, and social media to broadly disseminate credible information that is critical, conversational, and compassionate—the Settlers Take Action campaign allows non-Indigenous folk to take responsibility in their role toward reconciliation
and an important collaboration of BC Writers Rita Wong and Fred Wah, River Relations: A Beholder’s Share of the Columbia River, an interdisciplinary artistic research project undertaken as a response to the damming and development of the Columbia River and the upcoming renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty.