"They flutter through/my mind/like bright/oil paints blurring,/and mixing their/liberating colors." from "Poems"
What is needed to write? Pen, paper, laptop, silence (hopefully) those are the bare essentials, but is there more needed to write. Through the chaos of life, time is taken by work and given to family, the writer must steal moments to focus and flush. As the pressures and responsibilities mount the need to focus and the time to focus seem to be running in different directions. One of those added responsibilities is parenthood, time to care, time to play, time to read, and always time to love, children are a treasured distraction of the writer.Chicago's Jason Fisk is focused and writing. He is widely published (including an appearance in an Orange Alert favorite The Orange Room), and will announced some publication news in this interview. He writes about his life, but somehow always relates his thoughts to the reader in a very universal way.
Recently, Jason was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Orange Alert (OA): Last September you were "showcased" by Laura Hird, what was that experience like? Do you feel that sited like hers and other literary site bring about a sense of community? Do you think writers need a sense of community, while participating in such a solitary art form?
Jason Fisk (JF): Being showcased by Laura Hird was an honor. I was jazzed when I opened up the e-mail saying that she was going to showcase some of my poems. It’s a great site.
I would consider myself a solitary writer. The whole “writer community” thing is something I struggle with. Part of me desperately wants to be part of some sort of artistic community, while the other part is hesitant to put myself out there. I think it would be invigorating to share ideas and get, and give, honest feedback from trusted persons.
I do realize that there are great writing communities out there in computer-land, but I hate the way I come across on blogs and message boards. It seems like every time I post something, it kills the thread. I’m sarcastic and bizarre enough that I can’t make it work on blogs and message boards. Also, I would rather read a person’s body language and hear the tone in which something was said than read their sometimes ostentatious thoughts.
As far as the poetry communities here in Chicago, there are so many that I don’t have the time, energy, or courage to find one that would work for me. I do read both the Thieves Jargon and Zygote in My Coffee message boards daily. I post much, much less frequently than I read.
OA: How long did you submit your work before you received your first publication? What kept you going?
JF: I took an elective course in graduate school dealing with the history of poetry. The professor was a published poet who told us that in order to really appreciate poetry, and its history, we would have to get our hands dirty and write some ourselves. She compared it to learning about an engine, saying that we could just read about it, or actually get in there and experience it. It was an inspiring class. That’s when I caught the bug and began writing poetry. That was in 2004. I began submitting some of those poems and kept writing. I had a poem published late the next year by the now defunct Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry. The second person to publish my poetry was Brian Fugett. I also credit his publication, Zygote in My Coffee, for keeping my “poetry spark” alive. His site showed me a fascinating side of poetry that I didn’t know even existed at the time.
OA: As a fellow father, has your writing changed in anyway since the birth of your daughter. How do you plan to pass your passion for literature on to her?
JF: Fatherhood is great, it has forced me to become more focused with my time and writing. I don’t even know what I did with all of the free time I had before she was born - a lot of beer and baseball I think. In general, I have become more sentimental and that has probably leaked into some of my poetry.
I have been reading to the kid before she knew what was going on. There was awhile where she wouldn’t stop crying unless she was moving and someone was talking to her, so I put her in the Baby Bjorn and walked around the house reading John Fante’s, 1933 Was a Bad Year. It tickles me now when she brings me book after book to read to her. I also read a lot while she watches TV, hoping that will make some sort of an impression on her.
OA: Has teaching English and writing to students changed the way you view your own work and writing in general? What is one thing you have learned from your students?
JF: I think twice now before submitting a poem that could be viewed as controversial, racy or edgy by a parent. That hasn’t really stopped me, but it has made me pause and hold my breath.
Through teaching my students, I have learned that passion is contagious. I love tearing through a student’s misconceptions about poetry and turning them on to it. I love looking up from my desk and seeing their noses buried in a book that they were complaining about reading only a week before.
OA: You have amassed a nice body of work, is the a collection or chapbook in your future?
JF: Thanks. Yes, as a matter of fact, there is. I am going to have a chapbook published later this year by Tainted Coffee Press. It will be part of the flipbook series they are producing where one poet’s work can be read on right hand facing page, then flipped and the another poet’s work can be read on the opposite page, kind of a double billing.
I did put out an early poetry collection on Lulu a few years back. I sold a miniscule number of them to friends, and then deleted the project from the database. When I look back on those poems, it makes me cringe. Many have been rewritten and re-rewritten and some have even been re-re-rewritten.
OA: What is next for Jason Fisk?
JF: Next? I plan on continuing to plug away at my poetry. I’m also trying my hand at fiction. It’s something I would like to hone. That’s about it. Oh, my wife is due in June, so that’ll keep me busy and sleep deprived for awhile.
OA: Coffee? If yes what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
JF: I love my coffee; however, I’m also a cheap ass, so my favorite coffee spot has to be the McDonald’s drive through. I drink it black; the stronger, the better.
OA: What type of music do you enjoy listen to, and who are a few of your favorites?
JF: In my rotation now –
Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
Iron and Wine – The Shepard’s Dog
Jim White – Transnormal Skiperoo