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BHS teacher authors two new poetry books

BEMIDJI—A Bemidji High School English teacher is the author of two new books of poetry.

Gina Marie Bernard's "I Am This Girl" was published Oct. 26 and "Naked, Gettin' Nuder" is set to hit shelves by the end of November. Both cover her experience as a transgender woman: grief, loss, guilt, shame—"I was hiding," she said—but also the power of love, truth, and acceptance, Bernard said.

"Especially once I transitioned, it feels like my life sort of became more of an open book," she said. "In expressing my own pain and my own shame and being honest about that, my goal is to show people that you don't need to keep secrets, you don't need to hide, you're beautiful in the messy way you are."

The books, then, can be considered redemptive for Bernard herself and demonstrative for other people. One poem in them is called "Confessional," and it's a collection of often-grim vignettes from Bernard's past that range from stealing soup spoons to tasting the barrel of a gun.

"That poem was very hard to write because I had to kind of bare my soul, and I had to be really honest about some things that I could have easily taken to my grave and never told anybody," Bernard said. "But how do you live in light? How do you live in truth? How do you demonstrate to other people that you're more than the sum total of your choices without being willing to open that vein? That's kind of what the poetry's all about."

Bernard's had a novel and a collection of short stories published before, and her work often appears in literary journals and compilations, but these are her first two published books of poetry.

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education (mostly K-12) and American Indian affairs for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He's from Minneapolis, earned a degree from the College of St. Benedict - St. John's University in 2009, and worked at the Perham Focus near Detroit Lakes and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis before heading to the Pioneer.

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