Jennifer is a poet who delights in every avenue of writing and narration that presents itself. She presently lives in Vancouver, Canada.
The house on the 7th Line
Jennifer’s early years were unusual in some ways. Her mother had 13 children, and Jennifer is the youngest. Her family lived in Ontario, Canada, yet they were distinctly poor.
Their old house was free; in fact, their father was paid money to take it away. Their parents used all they had to buy 5 acres of rural land to put it on, but at the time that land was just inside a zone for middle-class families, so the house had to meet a minimum square footage requirement. Their father measured into every closet under the deep eaves, and just made it. Despite its setting, the house had no running water or other plumbing and only wood heat and single pane windows to guard against the long Ontario winters.
Thankfully, their large, wild lot full of trees and the surrounding farms, creeks and nearby lakes were a creative playground.
A family affair
Jennifer’s sister, Regan Nuqui, is one of several writers in the family. Regan wrote a thoughtful and humorous article about those early years in “Eau de Toilet – The Fragrance of My Youth”. She also spoke about attending school in poverty and the power of graciousness in her moving essay “Elephants in the Classroom – and the Teacher Who Conquered Them”, which was published in Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper. Regan was the first in the family to go to University, and is now an accountant as well as a writer of youth fiction. (This duality of STEM and language recurs often in the family.) In 2021, Regan began attending the prestigious Golden Egg Academy in the United Kingdom.
As the youngest, Jennifer was able to benefit from the influence and traits of her other family members.
Her maternal grandfather Owen Peak was a keen amateur oil painter and photographer with a deep love of the outdoors. He had been a cowboy in Alberta and a park warden in Ontario, before working many years at The Globe and Mail as a graphic artist. Remarkably, he even went on the occasional painting trip to Temagami with fellow Welshman Frederick Varley of the Group of Seven.
Jennifer's father Charlie had apprenticed as a stationary engineer and her mother Barbara was good at maths. Both were also avid readers who enjoyed poetry and regularly recited poems from memory.
Her mother in particular wrote vivid narrative poetry and had a strong artistic interest. Barbara scrounged enough once to splurge on ceramic classes at the local College, which at that time happened to be taught by renowned Canadian potters like Robin Hopper, Roman Bartkiw and Ann Mortimer. Barbara found she liked glazes most of all. She was even invited to move to an artist colony in Big Sur, California, by a pottery couple who were not interested in glazes themselves and who thought they might team up. At the time though, the U.S. had the military draft on, and since Barbara had one son already of military age and another growing fast, she reluctantly turned them down.
Jennifer's father eventually joined her mother's class, and when it came time to select two student pieces for display, a piece from each of them was chosen.
The move out West
When Jennifer was 9 years old, her mother moved with the youngest 4 children to the coastal area of British Columbia.
Jennifer excelled at languages, literature and maths throughout secondary school, yet the family's economic situation remained dire, and she continued to turn to poetry to express herself.
At one point in her final year, she was dating a young man, Dan, who attended another school. He became sick for two weeks and got behind in homework, including a poem required for English class. Jennifer helped out by giving him one of her own to submit. Dan's teacher was so impressed with it, he had Dan discuss it for the whole class (thankfully, Dan was good at improv), and told the rest of the class to re-write their own poems for not taking the time and attention that Dan had.
Once Jennifer started working, she discovered a bookstore near her office, and was eagerly introduced by its owners to a range of poetry from various cultures - not just Canada, the U.S. and England, but also Persia, China, Japan and India.
During that period, Jennifer also explored Biblical poetry and its unique aspects, and she passed many nights listening to recordings of the psalms.
For a sample of some of Jennifer’s reading at this time, please visit this site's Influences page.
This was followed by nearly a decade managing a contemporary West African music group that performed throughout the North West, including writing their press releases and other promotional material. She was privileged to visit Guinea twice (being given the name Maciré by her in-laws, but more often called Geneviève), and she learned much from its kind people and substantial culture.
These two peoples made deep impressions on Jennifer. Meanwhile, she continued to press on with her writing.
Eventually, she found herself single-parenting an extraordinary boy while working full-time in the fast-paced, high-volume legal field. Although her work preparing legal documents sharpened her skills with word choice and clarity, she took time off from creative writing for those busy years, and returned to it later when her circumstances allowed.
Soon after that brief return, however, Jennifer suffered a years-long breakdown, and took a further two years to recover from it. Gratefully, with the help of excellent medical professionals and supportive family, Jennifer came out of it feeling better than she had before.
Jennifer's first creative project after recovery was to publish a collection of select poems she had written over the years, with a view to closing that chapter and moving forward with her writing and related learning.
She continues to work as a paralegal and TEP in succession planning, and lives with her son, Mohamed (perhaps her biggest influence), who makes her laugh daily.
Like her grandfather Owen and photog brother Morgan, Jennifer also found photography to be a creative outlet. At present, she has more interest than skill, so the few shots she has included in her poetry book and on this site's Prints page remain untouched.
Jennifer’s poems “Rain” and “Defined” were published in Ascent Aspirations Magazine, Anthology Three, Agua Terra, 2007. That magazine is no longer issued, but more recent anthologies of it are available from the publisher at http://www.davidpfraser.ca/the-book-store.html