SOUP: Queer Pain, Queer Resilience

By Jen Harris

Forever a trigger warning re: sexual and physical assault

I need to write about how hard it has been for me to be Queer.

The trauma of my Midwest queer experience rattles in me, generational and cellular. I am devastated by the danger I placed myself in in order to feel safe. How many nights did I drive shitty cars and shitty people around, trying to find an exit or a safe parking lot or enough change for a motel room? How many cigarettes have I smoked and how many lies have I told? How much survival sex did I have with women who wouldn’t acknowledge me during the day, but filled me full of food and drugs at night? How many scraps did I accept in place of true meaning and connection? At what point did I lose touch with my worth? Did I ever know it to begin with? Is it something you nurture or is it inherent? Is it something you believe in? Is it annual or perennial? How much sunlight and water does it need? How long can it live in the tundra before damaged, irreparable?

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Poet Jen Harris’s new book Unconfirmed Certainties is about heartbreak, growth, and telling your truth⁠—even if that means saying “fuck you” to cheating fiancées.

Bad Ass Babes: Jen Harris

By Kelcie McKenney

Jen Harris outside her Kansas City home
Photo by Justina Kellner

Poet Jen Harris is unapologetic about telling her truth, and she wants readers of her new book Unconfirmed Certainties to feel the same. 

The Kansas City poet and spoken word artist has earned her place at the center of KC’s poetry scene: She has both a Drugstore and Charlotte Street residency under her belt, gave a TED talk called “Spoken Word Poetry Saved My Life,” had a guest spot on season three of Queer Eye, founded the Kansas City Poetry Slam (aptly named because she “believes in SEO ratings”), and published two books, with her third to be released on Sunday. Harris isn’t stopping any time soon.

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