Meg Johnson veers into frame.
Recent Puritan contributor Meg Johnson discusses the composition of her poem, “American Woman,” in Issue XXII: Summer 2013 of The Puritan.
I wrote “American Woman” when I was visiting my parents in Ames, Iowa, which is where I grew up. Was I feeling nostalgic? Maybe. I think I was reflecting on the progression of childhood to adulthood and how lives cannot be classified simply as turning out “good” or “bad.”
I grew up reading the American Girl books. I was also a proud owner of a Samantha doll, which I received for Christmas when I was in second grade. My childhood best friend had the Kirsten doll and another girl in my neighborhood had the Molly doll.
In my early- and mid-twenties I was a principal dancer in Kanopy Dance Company in Madison, Wisconsin. The company is in residence at Overture Center for the Arts, which was built after receiving a monetary gift from the American Girl brand creator, Pleasant Rowland. I would often hear stories about Ms. Rowland, which kept Samantha and the other American Girl characters on my mind.
The most surprising thing about creating this piece is that as soon as I started writing the poem, I had no doubt what I thought would have happened to the three original heroines as adult women. So while I technically composed this piece this summer, it had obviously been simmering in the back of my mind for several years.
Meg Johnson’s first full-length poetry collection is forthcoming from The National Poetry Review Press. Her poems have appeared in Hobart, Midwestern Gothic, Slipstream Magazine, Stone Highway Review, Word Riot, and others. Meg started dancing at a young age and worked professionally in the performing arts for many years. She currently lives in Akron, Ohio and is the editor of Dressing Room Poetry Journal. Her website is www.megjohnson.org.