Jared Pearce–Interview

The Magnolia Review: Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

Jared Pearce: I write at home, usually.  I have a busy household, so I generally write from 5:00-6:00 in the morning when it’s quiet.  I keep the lights off.  Of course, if I see or hear or do something that connects a poem, I’ll build it right then.  Once, while driving across Arizona, I had an idea and dictated it to my co-pilot.  But generally it’s just me, at the dinner table, in the dark.

TMR: What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

JP: I use a laptop computer, mostly, and type-out poems.  I do a fair amount of handwriting, though, too, when away from the machine.  In fact, I’ve got four-ish poems on scraps of paper on my desk waiting to be typed-up.  Since those poems are kind of out of my habit, we’ll see if they get electronified.

TMR: What is your routine for writing?

JP: I don’t know that my routine is all that startling: I see or hear or do or feel something that connects to something else I’ve seen or heard or done or felt and then there’s a poem.  Revisions come in two flavors: either all at once or in little chips.  When I know the idea’s good but the words stink, I often just crash the entire poem and start from scratch.  Sometimes, though, it’s just a matter of a little change here or there.

TMR: How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

JP: I was fourteen when I wrote my first poem.  I had been out with my friends, miniature golfing.  I love the miniature golf.  When I got home I had this idea about how miniature golf was a metaphor for living and stayed up pretty late, in the dark, working on the poem.  No, it wasn’t very good, but I became interested in the idea of building a metaphor.

TMR: Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

JP: I’m the first audience—that’s where the idea starts.  But as the poem is shaping, I understand that if the metaphor is going to work it has be unchained from my singular perception.  I like poems that are a little more accessible, that work to comment on and illuminate living without having to make either a grand gesture or drag me into a pile of language that just baffles me.  I like poems that tell stories, even if the stories are, in a way, incomplete.  My reader wants to hear a story and think about something.

TMR: What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

JP: If I’m blocked, I write a stinky poem.  Then the next day, or even in the next few moments, I find that the subsequent poem is less stinky.  I’m inspired by everyday things.

TMR: What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

JP: I don’t spend as much time as I need to be spending working on maintaining the old house in which I live.  I’m no construction guru, but I do like to work on the house.  I’ve been teaching myself to play the guitar.  I’m no great cook, but I’m often recruited to work in the garden.  I’ve been put in charge of the wisteria and the fruit trees.  The wisteria’s getting out of hand.  The fruit trees are coming along very well.  I like to play games, some video, some board, some party.  I like films and chocolate.

TMR: What is your favorite part of the creative process?

JP: Fitting the words to the concept is, I find, challenging and energizing, and my favorite part of the process is that moment, in composition or revision, where the lid on the poem fits snug, waiting for someone to come along and open it.

TMR: What is your advice to aspiring writers?

JP: Keep going.

Check out Jared’s work in the issue, Volume 3, Issue 1.


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