April is National Poetry Month and back in March I had big plans to celebrate. Then it unofficially became International Pandemic Month… and I don’t need to elaborate. We’re all in that together.
Fortunately, I’ll be able to celebrate Poetry Month a few times here at the tail end beginning with an interview from Jezzy Wolfe. I’m excited to be able to share this rising poet here.
Angela—How long have you been a poet—is it something that came naturally to you as a child or something you decided on later in life?
Jezzy—I think I have always been a poet. As a young child, I tied poetry closely to music and would make up tunes in my head for the poems I read most often. We had so many books in our attic, and I spent a lot of time up there. There was an enormous book of Grimm Brother’s fairy tales and a large book of Mother Goose nursery rhymes. There were also the reading books my brother and I used in school, and I loved those in particular. Especially the poems, which I would sing. To myself. In the attic. Or as I walked down the street because it didn’t occur to me that the people in their houses could likely hear me singing as I walked to the recreation center, or the Post Office, or the store. There were a few early poems I’d written that I also sang.
As time passed, I studied poetry in school that wasn’t the lyrical, rhythmic stuff of my youth. And my taste in poetry shifted as new favorite poets emerged. The way I wrote poetry shifted, as well. I was heavily inspired by the poets I studied, particularly those in high school.
Angela—What kind of poetry do you write, and is it different or the same as the poetry you enjoy reading?
Jezzy—While I might occasionally write a ballad or metered poem, I most often write free verse, the occasional acrostic piece, a number of traditional Japanese styles (who doesn’t love a good haiku?), and an ample amount of concrete poems. They are also the types of poems I enjoy most to read. I love a poem that moves across a page.
I am partial to both modernists and post-modernists, and the poems I write are greatly influenced by them. My favorite poets are E. E. Cummings and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I love Cummings’ irreverent punctuation, lack of capitals, the way he pushed words together. Ferlinghetti had such wild visual imagery, a really punchy narrative. I also appreciated the way he played with form and movement in some of his poems. He had that concrete mojo. I could dig it.
Angela—How important is poetry?
Jezzy—Poetry is what came to me first. It’s instinct. It’s …breathing, really. When I am frustrated, angry, hurt, mourning, poetry is the most natural way I can express those feelings. Poetry allows us to reconcile the turmoil we can’t always wrap our heads around. It is a place to vent. It is catharsis. Poetry is the couch in our therapist’s office. In that way, I feel poetry is incredibly vital. Poetry keeps me sane. I think it does that for many people.
Angela—There is a lot of fear, anger, and misunderstanding going on at present. What do you think the role of poetry is today?
Jezzy—It is that place to vent, of course. But more than that, it is where we find solidarity and comfort. To find those other voices, expressing those fears in your head, that anxiety in your belly, those are the tribe you didn’t realize you had. They are your common ground. And there is something reassuring in hearing your fears expressed in someone else’s words. We do that all the time when we hear those messages in music, and this is no different. Poetry is a way of offering solace to someone who, like us, is feeling overwhelmed or terrified by the things happening in the world today. The poems we compose represent what we are surviving now, and will be that sign of hope for those that come after us. Just as the poets that came before offered us that same promise. They went through hell, they came out the other side. And so will we.
Angela—Where do you hope poetry will take you in the future?
Jezzy—I have been focusing almost exclusively on poetry lately because it is uniquely satisfying to create. I intend to pour myself into my collections for the foreseeable future, and my hope is that others will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. I will continue working on my fiction in between, of course, but for now, I am focusing on writing that next clever line. Maybe writing a piece in the shape of a ball. And if someone mentions me in the same breath as Ferlinghetti someday, I will know all those hours singing in my attic paid off.
Angela—Please let us know where we can find you and your work.
My fiction can be found in various horror publications such as Crystal Lake’s Shallow Waters, Vol 1, Smart Rhino’s Zippered Flesh (1, 2, and 3) and Insidious Assassins, and Western Legends’ Unnatural Tales of the Jackalope. My poetry can be found published at The World of Myth ezine, or as an occasional feature on my blog. I am currently finishing editing my first collection of horror poetry called Monstrum Poetica and will release further publishing information on that as soon as it becomes available.