Katherine "KJ" Jensen
Writing Workshop Participant at Quest Center for Integrative Health for women in treatment for and survivors of breast cancer and others who participate in the Center's wellness programs.
Katherine is 56 years old. She was born in Spokane, Washington and spent much of her early years in California. Katherine practiced 21 years in Roseburg, Oregon as a Certified Nurse Midwife, delivering over 3,000 babies as well as having two children of her own, a son and daughter.
In 2001, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and moved to Portland in 2004 for better treatment. She expects to beat cancer but has had health problems related to the treatments. Katherine is currently in the Quest Center workshop for breast cancer survivors, and she is working on a novel detailing her experiences as a midwife.
She is pictured, right. Her poem from our anthology, City. Night. Sky., and interview follow:
by Katherine Jensen
When I was born, the sun had just risen in the almost Solstice sky.
The first face I saw, through watery-veiled vision,
In what I would later learn,
Was a white, cloth, face mask.
By the time I would wear a mask,
They would be blue, and made of paper,
Pre-shaped, with an elastic band;
Or accordion folded,
To be stretched out over your nose and mouth,
A metal band
Pinched over your nose and under your glasses,
Paper strips to tie behind your head.
They would be attached to a clear plastic
Protection from being splattered
Or “other potentially infectious material.”
But, when I was born,
Masks were made of cloth,
That you sent to the laundry...
Interview with featured writer Katherine Jensen
Interviewer: Write Around Portland volunteer Peter Young
Tell us about your experience in a Write Around Portland Workshop.
I loved the group. It was an incredibly supportive atmosphere. I totally adore our workshop facilitator, Dawn Thompson. And it felt safe to share our writing.
What did you get out of the workshop?
It got me writing again. I’d never written using prompts before. I found them very helpful.
Had you written much before you joined the Write Around Portland workshop?
I had been a journalist for a while. I’ve also written for professional midwife journals, as well as kept a journal. But from 1997 to 2006, I did no writing whatsoever.
How was your experience writing in a group? Sharing with others? Hearing other people’s stories?
I am very interested in every woman’s story about fighting breast cancer. In a strange way, I feel no fear about cancer myself. From a clinician’s perspective, I know what it is. I know the steps one has to take to beat it. It’s interesting, but I did not write about my experience with cancer until the very last day of the workshop. I just didn’t feel compelled [prior to that].
Is there anything you would like to tell your readers about your writing?
Truth is experiential. Always tell your truth. Each of us has a story to tell. We’re all important enough to be heard.
Write Around Portland Participant