Instructor releases poetry collection on her battle with cancer

SDSU instructor Jodi Andrews’ poetry collection “Skin Reverberations” came out July 14

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SDSU instructor Jodi Andrews’ poetry collection “Skin Reverberations” came out July 14

Greta Goede, Reporter

A South Dakota State University English instructor released a debut poetry collection this summer based on her struggle with cancer.

Jodi (Moore) Andrews introduced the collection called “Skin Reverberations” at Mission Coffeehouse at First Lutheran Church in Brookings in mid-July. The collection was inspired by Andrews’s battle with skin cancer.

 “When I was working on this book, I was writing a lot about having had melanoma,” Andrews said. “Having a big scar on my leg made me think about skin differently and how I appreciate skin differently than people who haven’t had skin cancer.”

Andrews was diagnosed with melanoma in 2014 while she was in graduate school. She started writing her collection about the experience, which is her focus for the first two sections of the book.

 “I wanted to write about it since nothing else seemed important,” she said. “I’m 24 years old and I could die. This isn’t how things are supposed to play out.”

The third section of the book contains stories about other experiences she had in her 20s, including getting married and having children. These stories are also told through the experience of skin.

Kathleen Henderson Staudt, who edited the collection, invites “readers to notice afresh the gifts of our sense of touch, from scarred flesh to lover’s caress, to the iciness of winter to the touch of sun and the fuzz of an infant’s cheek.”

“Through the richness of this sensory experience, we also experience the many dimensions of a cancer survivor’s journey, from diagnosis, through the indignities of treatment and the terrors of false alarms, emerging with a deepened appreciation for the precariousness of life and for everything our skin can feel,” Henderson Staudt said in a statement.

The collection was first workshopped with the Women’s Poet Collection, where the name “Skin Reverberations” was created. They also helped Andrews decide which of her pieces should go in her book.

“I had a lot of help with this book. No one can do this alone,” Andrews said.

“Skin Reverberations” was published by Pasque Press. The organization is under the board of directors of The South Dakota State Poetry Society and it publishes full-length, single-authored poetry collections. Andrews’s collection was the first single-authored, full-length book published by the SDSPS.

As a South Dakota poet laureate from 2019-2021, Christine Stewart-Nunez edited the anthology “South Dakota in Poems.” Doing that made her realize there were a lot of good writers in the state, but that there weren’t many publishers in the state who publish poetry.

“With approval from the SDSPS board and funding by the South Dakota Humanities Council, I opened the first call for book manuscripts in 2021,” Stewart-Nunez said. “Among the submissions, ‘Skin Reverberations’ was selected by myself and Lee Ann Roripaugh, also a past poet laureate. It was then peer-reviewed by two established writers who don’t live in the state.”

Andrews said she is honored that Pasque Press published “Skin Reverberations,” and she’s happy to share with people how writing has enhanced her life.

“South Dakota has a rich poetry culture, and I’m so proud to be part of it,” Andrews said.