Last November, 24-year-old Waterloo Region resident Jennifer Drews, also known as J. Drews, published her first book of poetry These (Transitional) Words. The book consists of several short poems that, because they are connected by transitional words and phrases, can be read either individually or continuously.

The poems are based on Drews’ own experiences with trauma and healing.

“Maybe a year and a half ago, I had a very traumatic sexual experience … and it really changed my worldview very drastically,” she said.

“I just kind of went into denial, flew away to Colombia for a few months to try to collect my thoughts.”

When she came back, a friend suggested she start therapy. During her journey in therapy, the book came to life.   

“There’s seven or eight chapters; each chapter that I wrote was a different week in therapy. So, the book

is about my stages of healing after trauma,” Drews said.

After encouragement from friends, Drews self-published the book through Amazon.

“It’s done a lot better than I thought it would do, and that makes me really happy because there’s some other women in the world that are finding healing through it, and that’s kind of the entire purpose of why I did it [sic],” she said.

“I really don’t care if the book does well. I just want other people to be okay because I know how bad it is to be in that mind space.”

Drews also does a lot of travel writing. Recently, she has been collaborating on a book with her friend focusing on advice for women who want to travel.

“[It’s about] going out into the world and exploring and not being paralyzed by fear. I think [the topic is] strongly motivated by the fact that everything happened to me abroad, but I don’t want that to stop me from travelling, ever. You know, sexual assault, rape … these things can happen in your home. They can happen on the street. They are not correlated to anything that you’re doing in that moment, it’s just … wrong place, wrong time, wrong person,” Drews said.

She wants women to feel empowered to travel despite any hesitations or fear.

In addition to writing, Drews tries to help support other local artists by offering advice and organizing events. In August, Drews organized a free art event called Healing Through Art at Smile.io.

“I feel like there’s not enough safe spaces for people to talk about trauma. Trauma or pain or healing at all. Those all are still very scary and taboo subjects, and I’m hoping with the event … that people are open to talking about it and these artists are able to share their stories of how they connect with art, how they find healing through it, how they’ve helped other people find healing through art in all these different mediums, and that they get more exposure,” said Drews.

These (Transitional) Words can be found online through Amazon and at some local shops including Truth Beauty Company and Words Worth Books. Additional information and projects can be found at jdrews.ca.