NS Norfolk Community
Stanzas Against Stress
Story by SA Jordan Bair on 01/05/2019
NORFOLKShe shuffles through Sewell’s Point’s sterile halls, a medical facility located near Naval Station Norfolk, where she’s currently stationed to treat active-duty service members, dependents and retirees. With her recent transition to handling logistics and finances for the clinic’s supply department, Hospitalman Jonna Wooten is on her way to becoming a more well-rounded corpsman. In addition to balancing her new tasking, Wooten dedicates her down time to developing her passion for poetry.
“Writing poetry has become a form of art that I rely on because it’s a coping mechanism that I can be proud of,” said Wooten while gesturing with her hands.
Poetry provides Wooten with a positive outlet to release her emotions through creativity, and provides a separation between her work life and her personal life.
“I’m very professional within the clinic, but I’m a very spiritual and emotional person, so words just flow out of me,” said Wooten with a look of confidence on her face.
Wooten expressed that it’s normal to feel stress at work, but sometimes she needs an outlet to be able to release tension built up from deadlines or busy days at the clinic.
“I don’t usually get the urge to write about work,” said Wooten while clenching her fists nervously. “I normally write about love, heartbreak and raw emotion.”
The aspiring poet said her passion for poetry began during her senior year of high school when one of her teachers assigned her class a free write and she wrote her first poem. Her teacher noted her talent. Wooten performed her piece in a poetry slam and fell in love with the freedom of expression and creativity she discovered in writing.
When Wooten began sharing her poetry she says she received a lot of positive feedback, specifically from her friends and family. Her best friend, Natei Barnes, is her second biggest supporter next to her mother.
“Jonna’s poetry is amazing,” said Barnes. “I love reading her work because she has a way of making me feel everything she was feeling when she wrote it.”
Barnes encouraged her friend to create a social media page to share her work with the world. Wooten recently created the Instagram page called “Words by Jonna”.
“I’ve been reading Jonna’s poetry for years,” said Barnes. “I wanted her to start sharing her poetry on social media so other people can see how unique and passionate her work is.”
Wooten said she writes about the emotion she’s currently feeling, and she uses writing as a form of counseling.
Like many artists, Wooten has a creative process involved in composing her poetry.
“It’s like rolling a snowball, I start with a sentence, word or question and build off of that concept,” said Wooten. “After my initial concept brainstorming, I begin to organize my thoughts into a flowing rhythm. It takes a few days of editing for me to create a poem that I’m happy with, once I feel like it’s finished, I transfer it from my phone to my journal.”
Wooten shared a story about a poem she wrote about two years ago entitled “Tough Connection,” which helped her come out of a dark emotional place.
“I was going through a break up at the time, [and was dealing with] a lot of tough emotions like, anger, sadness, regret and confusion,” said Wooten while she fidgeted with her hands in her lap. “Just like any heartbreak, it was devastating. I was just so tired of laying in bed and crying. I had to write it down and start to let it go.”
Wooten explained that she felt the weight of those heavy emotions lifted off of her shoulders when she finished that poem. She said she felt like she finally encouraged herself to move on and get through the emotional hardship weighing on her heart.
“Poetry is always there for me and it’s the best way to relieve my emotions,” said Wooten with a warm smile.
Whether painting, drawing or writing her unique ways of expressing her creativity continue to shine, Wooten makes it clear that art is a vital part of her life.
Wooten begins pouring her heart into her newest piece, she then reads the finished product as a feeling of relief washes over her. She puts away her journal, crawls into bed and falls asleep. Her alarm abruptly wakes her early the next morning. She laces up her boots, brushes her hair back into a bun and buttons her blouse. Like clockwork, a new day begins for Wooten, as she steps into the clinic and makes her way to her shop.