Jewel’s book of poems, A Night Without Armor, was published a few years after the release of her debut album, Pieces of You. Pieces of You is one of my favorite records so naturally I wanted to own the book after I watched Jewel at Oprah, reading a couple of her poems. Over a decade after A Night Without Armor’s release, I found a very good copy at Booksale, read it, and understood why the critics had been unkind to Jewel’s poetry though that didn’t mean that I agree with them. Either these critics were just too full of themselves or they altogether skipped the innocent and naïve stages of their youth. Haha!
I am not well-versed on poetry myself and my world in as far as poetry is concerned is confined to the work of Pablo Neruda, e.e. cummings, and occasionally, Emily Dickinson. I also dig the songs composed by Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, and The Beatles, many of which possess poetic qualities. The beautiful thing about A Night Without Armor is its tender illustration of youth. In the book’s afterword, Jewel said that she included poems from her early years even if they lacked technical skill because they were true to her confusion, fears, and dreams relative to her age. The voice in A Night Without Armor is certainly that of a young person struggling to affirm her place in the big wilderness, coping with her all too human desires, and finding some indestructible truth beneath the often messy and confused surface of life.
In Grimshaw, Jewel wrote about making a vow the kind that a child makes, ‘to face things as they came so they wouldn’t compound with time and become like huge ships, impossible to turn around.’ In Lost, Jewel spun her own simple observations on basic human emotions such as desperation – the honest recognition of a false truth, hope – seeing who you really are at your highest is who you will become, and grace – the refinement of a soul through time.
In Bleary Eyed, Jewel fed the silence with tender, loving thoughts: ‘while you slept I looked inside your chest to see what there was growing, I saw my heart with quiet eyes to your side its self was gently sewing.’ And in We Have Been Called, Jewel mused that ‘some things must remain simple, some things must remain untouched and pure.’
When I revisited this review, I realized that three years had passed since I engrossed myself with A Night Without Armor. In retrospect, my life’s toughest decisions were made in those three years. I’ve carried out changes that had their respective consequences, good and bad. Some of those decisions allowed me to gauge myself as someone not apart from but connected to the environment and lives around me. At this time, halfway through my 30s, I sense more frequent hungers for simplicity and purity, the themes that make A Night Without Armor incandescent. I yearn to read Jewel’s poems again.