Some things you need to know about Juma Perez:
Firstly, she is one hell of a strong person.
Secondly, she is filled with conviction. If she believes in you, it is the most powerful force you can have on your side.
Thirdly, she is brilliant.
. . .
I didn’t know all of these things when I first met her. But after knowing Juma for 3 weeks she had convinced me that I could write and publish my own book. So I did. Simply because she believed in a place that I couldn’t even see. And now, after finding her own places and getting acquainted with the scenery – much like growing daisies in a cow town – a book blossomed to life in a place that once seemed barren.
It has been a process of patient. Of diligence. Of discipline.
We’re excited to announce the launch of How To Grow Daisies In A Cowtown on November 5th, 2017. Copies will be available in our shop.
. . .
There was quite a long period there between the book being finished and you being ready to publish it. Why was that time significant for you?
I felt a lot of the content was finished before I even knew I would write this book. These are in fact, my stories. They were written as my life moved forward. The time between finishing writing the book and publishing it, I took to really reflect on myself. Writing it was painful in a lot of ways, and I needed some time to put it down and recover from that.
Do you feel like publishing this now vs. when it was finished or even later down the road is impactful?
It may not be impactful for the audience, but it was for me. I decided I would publish this story when I was ready to fully claim the story as my own, and that doesn’t necessarily have to come immediately after the last edits of a manuscript. Its a short read, so I’ve read this compilation what feels like a billion times. After a while it did not sound any different from the other times I read it, but it started to feel different. The poems started to fit comfortably in my life and I was able to really be open up about it without feeling shame, and thats when I knew, I was healing again. It was time to move on.
What is your own personal parallel and connection with Persephone? With Hades?
I’ve always been enchanted with the seasons. Autumn always made me feel nostalgic for the life I led the last autumn, which was also me feeling nostalgic of the autumn season before that.
When I was 15, someone told me that I probably have Seasonal Affective Disorder, an odd sequence of events happened where the next day a friend of mine kept referring to me as Demeter, weeping for her lost Persephone. As the years went on, I quickly realized that I was Persephone, stolen and weeping for my life outside the underworld.
We all have our own Hades’ in our lives, our own form of captors. Whether that be a person, a place, an event. Hades is just the thing that steals our joy, has darkness take place of our identities, encompasses us for seasons, makes us question what it is we truly are. But time moves all things, and Hades— like Persephone, comes and goes with the seasons. I think we can all find parallels of this in our own stories. It is simply the myth of redemption.
What has been the scariest part to overcome in this process?
Getting the book out there. I wrote this story for myself, and dedicated the book to my sisters who are my biggest fans, so when I was writing it I wasn’t really thinking about the rest of the audience that may have their hands on it as well. When that dawned on me, it was quite terrifying. I got over this through the realization that this is very well, not only my story.
What would be your advice to others struggling to overcome their own process in publishing their own books?
Do not let your own thoughts be your captor. I think we all just need to learn to love the stories we’ve lived and learn to flourish from our struggles. If you are writing and publishing work that comes from a dark place, let equal amounts of love come from your work. Mostly love for yourself. Putting yourself out there is tough, but its a lot easier when you can learn to love yourself even in your darkest moments.
What has been the best lesson to come out of this process?
Learning to talk openly about experiences of pain and confusion with people who love me and people who know what these stories feel like. Every poem I wrote I read to my sisters and closest friends, and that made me open part of myself that we may have never properly talked about. The best thing that came out of this book was learning to be authentic with the people I love, which in turn taught me how to be authentic with myself.
Find more of Juma’s work here.