About Jena

Welcome!

“Thank you for creating space to be both vulnerable and fearless.” – Lisa Kay

There are many portals to nurturing your writing practice and growing as a writer. Which door you pick isn’t all that important. Whether you’re a closet writer, an established writer, or not (yet) a writer at all, the three most important things you can do are to show up, start, and keep going. 

Sign up for a self-paced class, jump into one of the upcoming opportunities to write together, or schedule a coaching session to discuss your writing + life. And be sure to subscribe to the Fierce Encouragement newsletter for (ir)regular updates and inspiration.

I have written more words during my time working with Jena than any other such interval in my life.” – Peg Conway

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About

Photo by my wife, Mani | 2016

The official stuff is below, as well as a list of publications. But what I want to tell you first is this: The only thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a poet.

And while I have always been a writer, it took what felt like a long time to integrate writing with my other passions: Connecting; creating community through sharing stories; and witnessing and mirroring each other’s human experience.

The writing groups I lead feel like magic portals to just this.

In each group, a constellation of people of all ages and backgrounds and dispositions and geographies and life experiences comes together. Participation means showing up, not knowing what will come, and staying put long enough to find out. Instead of critiques, we give and receive encouragement.

All it takes is a willingness to say yes, set a timer for ten minutes a day, and share. The rest takes care of itself–something I have finally come to trust and live by.

Pull up a chair! No matter where you are in writing and in life, there’s a place for you here.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

* I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barnard College in 1995, with a B.A. in Russian Studies. In 2000, I completed an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College.

* With advanced training from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), I started my first business, Strong Coaching, in 2003.

* I’ve served as a career counselor, academic advisor, writing instructor, nonprofit director, and community engagement manager at a number of institutions.

* I’ve self-published two collections of poetry and prose, and my writing has appeared both online and in print.

* After a dozen years in Burlington, VT, I moved back to Amherst, MA in 2012, where I now work and live on the second floor of a wonderful old house with my beloved wife, Mani Schwartz, and two glorious, growing-up kids, Aviva and Pearl.

Come find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Feel free to contact me; I love hearing from people and will always respond.

Anthologies, Journals & Magazines

Mamalode, What Are Moms Good For? March 2016
On Being, The Spaces Between the Consonants, January 2016
Full Grown People, Beyond the Lonely Bench, October 2015
The Manifest-Station, Free Associating about Fear & Faith (Or, What I’ve Forgotten), September 2015 (Winner of a full scholarship to Jennifer Pastiloff and Emily Rapp’s Stowe, VT Retreat)
Barnard College Alumnae Magazine, The Intrigue of Just Passing Through, August 2014
Truck, Gestation, July 2014
Rebelle Society, What Spirit Will Do, June 2014
G.R.I.T.S.: Girls Raised in the South, An Anthology on Southern Queer Womyns’ Voices and Their Allies, Go Fuck Yourself; Half-Lounge; When it Happens; Alabama, September, 2013
Amulet: A Field Guide, Interview with Marybeth Bonfiglio, Spring 2013
Inside: Lebrón-Wiggins-Pran Cultural Center Publications, Hampshire College, Politics as Usual?, Spring 2013
Goodreads, Throwdown, May 2013 (Newsletter Contest Winner)
New Millenium Writings, Sudden Village, 2013 (Honorable Mention)
Survive & Thrive: Start with the Heart, What Our Hearts Are; Give Thanks, 2012
Loonfeather, Farmsong, 2001
Many Mountains Moving, Sculler’s Club; My Love, 1999
Analecta 24: Dreaming Pasternak; A Rowboat, the Dock, 1997 (Featured Writer)

Guest Posts

Madhuri Blaylock, I Support We Need Diverse Books (WNDB): The Series: Let’s, December 2014
Survive & Thrive, Tell Me About It: At least 10 minutes a day and vlog reading, Tell Me About It, September 2013
Kajama: Your Spiritual Home on the Web, Bottom Out; Done. Ready; and Why We Are Here, August 2013 (Featured Writer)
Daily Hampshire Gazette, A Mother Looks for Good in a Sorrowful Week, April 2013
Blackhouse Studio, So It Goes, 2012
Roots of She, What if it Were Easy? 2012 (available upon request)
Tracy Clark, I Am Enough series, Rambling about Coming Out, 2011
Karen Maezen Miller, Busting out of the Perfect Pantry, 2009

Interviews

Becoming a Force of Nature, Interview with Julie Daley, March 2014
Holding Your Grace: Messages of Hope, Interview with divorce attorney Keri Kettle, April 2013
Amulet Magazine: A Field Guide to Living Wise, Interview with Marybeth Bonfiglio, Spring 2013 issue
WomensRadio’s V for Vitality, Interview with host Susan Brender, August 2012

Conferences & Courses

Editorial Board and Creative Content Team, Survive & Thrive: A Conference and Art Festival for the Medical Humanities, October 16-18, 2013

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