Meet Jill Dearman
Commitment and Communication
I’ve known Jill for many years. I met her through a really awesome group of friends who knew each other from college. Kindly, they adopted me when I returned to New York after leaving as a toddler.
Over the years, as we set off on our different life orbits—roughing it; living the life of writers and artists in New York City—we kept lightly in touch. It was great to reconnect over language and jewelry.
Ashley Turner, the poet on our team, interviewed Jill about the jewelry we made for her; the vitality and necessity of communication; and the beauty of language.
Ashley Turner: As someone intimately acquainted with language, what drew you to the word “fidelity” and what spoke to you about this particular ring form? Or, in short, what’s the story behind the Fidelity Rings?
Jill Dearman: For our two-year anniversary in late March, my girlfriend Lorna and I went to see a play at Lincoln Center, Bull in a China Shop, about early lesbians in the university world—very sexy and literary. I was carrying a KANAREK gift bag containing a Feminist Necklace I’d chosen as a gift.
After the show, we went out downtown to dine at the restaurant we’d gone to on our first date. Just as our drinks arrived, before I could even give Lorna her gift, she told me she’d been wanting us to get rings as an acknowledgment, a way of saying “I belong to you; you belong to me.”
When I gave Lorna the Feminist Necklace, she loved it. It really suited her. When we talked about what kind of rings to get, I suggested perhaps something Yael could design, something with a word on it.
I’m a writer, and Lorna is a great reader. She also has an elegance about her, a personal style, that extends to her way with words. She liked my word idea. I remembered a note she had written me a few months earlier, expressing appreciation for my “constancy and fidelity.” That phrase stuck with me because it was very Lorna—very thoughtful and very old-world. I suggested we use the word “fidelity” and it resonated for both of us. It’s romantic, eternal, and deep.
AT: You’ve become quite a voice for perseverance within the writing community, encouraging writers to keep using the tools we have (such as writing, revising, and publishing) to, as you put so well in one of your blog posts, “fight the voices of terror and doom.”
What inspired you to conduct your own workshops and eventually write Bang the Keys, a book all about cultivating a lifelong writing practice?
JD: Yael’s work with language—as an artist and as a jewelry designer—serves as a great example of why writing and communication are so important right now. Whether it’s through a single word, an art installation, or a full-length book, it seems that, to paraphrase W.H. Auden, we must communicate with each other or die. Finding a way to connect and truly understand each other is what writing is all about, and during these times, it’s an essential tool for keeping us from destroying each other and the planet.
AT: Anything else you’d like to add about wearing language on the body?
JD: It’s a beautiful way to communicate a feeling, and keep that feeling front and center.