"Across the Wetlands and Deserts of Memory": Tamara Jobe on Hag

TAMARA JOBE lives in the South, tending horses and writing poems.


Today on the blog, Tamara Jobe’s weaves her way through the inspiration behind Hag (Half Mystic Press, 2019), mediating on how geography, identity, and her relationship with her mother has impacted her work.

Hag is a reclamation of language—how it holds sway over us, how it moves through everything, a gorgeous annihilation. It is a closer look at how we define femininity for ourselves. We choose our lives, and this collection shows us another way of doing so. We hold the hands of Fate every step of the way, guided by our own power yet to be discovered. It is available to preorder now.

If this is all I can bear, 
then I’m a light to be consumed
I’m a glistening heart beating itself 
into something,
a real thing. 

—From “Conjugal”


Writing is a strange phenomenon. It is both author and reader, muse and creator, voice and audience. There is a duality in the writer that toes the line between the natural and supernatural. 

As I was putting the pieces of Hag together, I was also sewing up loose ends in my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood; I was just beginning to feel some cohesion in my identity after the sensation of wandering for years across the wetlands and deserts of memory. I had sought shelter from society’s expectations in many places: friends I met along the way, lovers, whole communities. Many times I tried to mold myself into someone “acceptable.” It wasn’t until I forged my way through Hag that I registered how far I’d come. 

My mother was a core part of this realization, as she’s a core part in the book. It isn’t her self that features so much as her essence, some version of her voice that helped guide me through. She’s one of those women that seems to surprise everyone around her with her understated strength. She walked through fire and came out the other side steeled and tempered, but still herself, full to the brim with love. How many times I wanted to take her hand and say: thank you

I think with these poems I can begin to do that.