Tietjen, Jeanie (M.)
TIETJEN, Jeanie (M.)
Daughter of a minister (father). Education: University of Massachusetts, Amherst, M.F.A.
Agent—c/o Charles River Press, 427 Old Town Court, Alexandria, VA 22314-3544.
Author, editor, and writing teacher. Has taught writing programs for women in homeless shelters and prisons through WritersCorps, an AmeriCorps and National Endowment for the Arts project, beginning c. 1994.
(Editor, with Deborah Pugh, and contributor) I Have Arrived before My Words: The Autobiographical Writings of Homeless Women, Charles River Press (Alexandria, VA), 1996.
Author and editor Jeanie Tietjen has taught writing to homeless women in Washington, D.C., through WritersCorps, a federally funded program organized through AmeriCorps and the National Endowment for the Arts. As part of the program, Tietjen and coeditor Deborah Pugh led classes both at Rachel's House, a women's shelter, and at the District of Columbia Correctional Facility for Women, combining exposure to literature with writing exercises. I Have Arrived before My Words: The Autobiographical Writings of Homeless Women, collects the work of five of these students, along with contributions and commentary from Tietjen and Pugh. Nan Levinson, in a piece for the Women's Review of Books, noted that the authors intend the book "to record these women's lives, fight their invisibility and honor their voices; to celebrate their accomplishment in writing; to challenge political assumptions; to share the pleasures of stories; and to provide income for the women, who will receive some of the proceeds."
The individual stories are painful, according to many reviewers, recounting the experiences of women suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, abuse at the hands of parents and the men in their lives, and even mental illness. In a review for the Washington Post Book World, Colman McCarthy stated, "The worthiness of I Have Arrived before My Words is, first, in its rarity and, second, in its call for others in the writing community to widen the boundaries and extend authorship to those who truly do have stories." Regarding the commentary provided by Tietjen and Pugh, Library Journal contributor Kate Kelly noted that although "some background information is necessary, this much detail detracts from the main focus." Maria Simson, reviewing for Publishers Weekly, wrote that "a useful introduction to and discussion of each woman's history and character follow every personal essay," and called the book "illuminating to anyone who teaches writing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 1997, Mary Carroll, review of I Have Arrived before My Words: The Autobiographical Writings of Homeless Women, p. 807.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 1996, review of I Have Arrived before My Words.
Library Journal, January, 1997, Kate Kelly, review of I Have Arrived before My Words, p. 112.
Publishers Weekly, December 2, 1996, Maria Simson, review of I Have Arrived before My Words, pp. 54-55.
Washington Post Book World, April, 6, 1997, Colman McCarthy, "Voices from the Streets," review of I Have Arrived before My Words, section X, p. 11.
Women's Review of Books, May, 1997, Nan Levinson, review of I Have Arrived before My Words, p. 9.
National Coalition for the Homeless Web site,http://nch.ari.net/ (October 5, 2004), "Jeanie Tietjen."