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Beauty Q & A With Jeannine Hall Gailey

You have "six months to live." Now what? A master class convo on embracing the beauty of living. "Keep giving your body a reason to live.”

Once upon a time not that long ago, amid a years-long inquiry into a series of relentless and quite serious health challenges, Jeannine was told by doctors she had six months to life. So what did she do?

  • She went to the behemoth writers’ conference AWP in Los Angeles, and spent a lot of that time with her husband at the beach, in a wheelchair loving up the sun.

  • She bought a home.

  • She took up photography to remind herself of the beautiful things she saw (trees and birds especially).

  • The day she was supposed to start chemo, she chose to go to an Aimee Man concert instead. The next day she learned she had MS, not liver cancer—thus sparing herself of some very heavy-duty chemo. (Nobody is recommending this as a course of action!)

And through all the years of doctors appointments and emergency room visits, pain and low-energy, Jeannine continued to be fully in life: writing and submitting poems, finishing and publishing books, beelining her way to parks when the sun shone, the leaves turned gold, the blossoms pinkened, seeing friends, starting book clubs.

Read transcript or listen to audio here

In my view, Jeannine shows us what we’re capable of, even if we don’t feel we are—in the way we all show each other what we’re made of, and what’s possible beyond the limitations of our thinking.

I first met Jeannine about 15 years ago, through the poetry community. We didn’t see each other for years, but I stayed up on her goings on through her Facebook posts, all the while thinking Fuck, that’s a lot to go through and Ow wow, this remarkable human just keeps going, and not at a survival line but a thriving line.

Please, treat yourself to this glorious conversation with Jeannine. Have coffee with us, take us out for a walk, savor bites, and tell us what you think.

Download transcript and audio file here.

About Jeannine

Jeannine took me to a local pumpkin patch and sunflower field last fall.

Jeannine Hall Gailey is a poet with MS who served as Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She's the author of six books of poetry, including Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA's Elgin Award, and her latest, Flare, Corona from BOA Editions. Her work appeared in journals like The American Poetry ReviewJAMAPloughshares, and Poetry. You can visit her at her website here. Check out her books (and purchase) here. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @webbish6.

Aaaand! Jeannine is currently available for manuscript consults and poetry coaching on a limited basis. You can contact her at jeannine.gailey@gmail.com

From the archives:

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