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2012 Twenty Questions Interviews : Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen

20 Questions Interview with Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen

Library Children's Specialist


1. What's your name?

Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen.

2. Where are you from?

Originally NJ.

3. Who are you today?

An almost 60-year old mom in Charlottesville VA who embraces life's color in all its drama, joy, whimsy, and yearning.

4. What do you do? (Elevator speech)

Connect kids with books as a "Library Children's Specialist." I create and host programs and storytimes, and I delight in finding that magical and illusive "right" book for every child who walks in.

5. What's your story (how did you get here)?

From a fragmented adolescence to a nomadic early adulthood, I've recently arrived at a searingly focused midlife. Events of the past five months have simultaneously ignited my need for creative expression and doused my creative spirit: serious financial hardship; two sudden deaths in my family including my father-in-law and my mother, (who was in excellent health, dropping dead at her Christmas Eve service); my husband suffering debilitating side-effects from cancer radiation, and my 16-year-old son crashing academically at school in response. I find my library job — though fulfilling in itself — does not satisfy my need to process and integrate recent events.

6. Why is writing important to you?

Writing and other expressive forms seem to be the only response to stresses and events that have taken the breathing space out of my life.

7. When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?

I've always been driven to "write myself clear" — only then arriving at synthesis.

8. How did you embrace it?

In the past, I have played with simple poetry and messing with paints and collage, but presently I'm stuck — writer's block and fear of examining my grief up close.

9. How did that feel?

Whenever I've expressed myself successfully, I have experienced the sense of a brilliant flash of light limning my spirit.

10. Where has your journey taken you?

The beginning of clarity — where I integrate my inner and outer lives.

11. What challenges have you faced?

Artistic expression carries with a responsibility to be honest with yourself — a constant struggle I sometimes welcome, though lately I find myself running scared.

12. What worked for you?

In the past, sitting with a feeling; finding words, colors and textures that illuminate my felt-sense and make the abstract concrete.

13. What didn't work for you?

Forcing the words and images causes me to trivialize my meaning.

14. What three tips can you share with those starting on a similar path?

  • Trust yourself.
  • Tune in to your body — get a physical & physiological sense of what you want to express.
  • Seek community for inspiration and feedback.

15. What are you working on now?

Creating an expression of recent events. I hum with unexpressed thoughts and feelings.

16. What's coming up for you in the next year?

Less trauma and more connections.

17. What else do you desire/dream to do?

I'm looking for new avenues to expression and hoping to connect with others who also seek to harness creative yearnings.

18. How will you make that happen?

I'm "coming out" as a writer and artist — no longer hiding my endeavors.

19. What question would you like to be asked (or are just itching to answer) that's not on this list?

As a struggling artist, I'd like to find my space to create, so: "Would you like to join this wonderful retreat/community for artists?" My answer is "of course!"

20. What's your Web site address?

None yet.