This is part of the “I LOVE YOUR POEM!” series, in which people submit on behalf of local poets whose work they admire and write about why they do. The idea is not only to highlight great work, especially from those who may not submit the work themselves, but also to create a big gushy lovefest in the community. If you’re interested in submitting on behalf of a local poet you love you can check out the submission guidelines here
Jona Fine is a poet, a fierce heart of courage, and my friend. We met 10 years ago at the Naropa Summer Writing Program. There, I first learned who Open Circle was. Open Circle loves to write. They Love to support the queer and LGBTQ+ community by holding poetry events, through their work, and by making art. Open Circle goes within, makes cakes and the best bean stew. They place soft grey couches in their living room. They draw circles for 24-hours straight before I head off to an Environmental Film Festival and welcomes me back at night for snacks, and more drawing. I still have that piece hanging by my meditation cushion. Open Circle asks questions, and slices into my soul with words that crept up on like as a tiger. The rising of lightning, the mic drops. When Jona Fine showed me Open Circle I realized I had seen, more than a new form, but a pathway into the heart. I too am Open Circle. That part in each of us that seeks peace is an Open Circle. When it came time to nominate someone for this collection, Jona came right to my mind. As you read, I think you will see why.
The poem Jona shares with us here is part of a new collection of letters to LGBTQ+ youth. These are youth Jona works with while many of them are in their darkest moments, often in states of nearing self-harm, isolation from family, and confusion in finding who they are. Jona talks, with them over text, as part of a hotline providing resources to these struggling young people, on a journey to find their way. Jona reassures them, offers resources, does what is clinically possible. But at the end of day, Jona doesn’t get to find out what happens to them, nor to share the true heart stories one would share with a friend. The poem you are about to read is a letter to one of these youth. ‘D’ is one of many thousands of LGBTQ+ youth who are struggling to find their way in an increasingly confusing world. Jona’s work highlights how each of us can be a friend to those in our lives struggling in these ways. I hope you can hear the fierce heart of courage in these words, can see a piece of Open Circle. As I write this with tears in my eyes, I know that I have.
Lee Frankel-Goldwater is a teacher and a poet walking the path of the sage. He knows “it’s” about the journey but dreams of the destination. One of peace, one of less fear, worry, or shame for all. He believes there’s some good in this world worth fighting for, and prays that his every deed is made into this backdrop. Lee writes at the Writer’s Block, dances at Mi Chantli, and plays around Boulder, CO. He’s always ready for a story.
Jona Fine is a queer/ non-binary photographer, artist, poet, baker and performance artist. They live in Boulder, Colorado with their leopard gecko Max and currently work as a crisis worker for a LGBTQ+ youth suicide hotline. Jona is the founder, editor, and designer of Le Petit Press. They received their MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University. Jona can be found making art out of just about anything, loves rabbits, and the color grey.