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Interview With Poet Lesley Jenike

This week at the Poetry Blog of 32 Poems Magazine my interview with poet Lesley Jenike was posted.  She’s a contributor to the magazine and was a delight to interview, especially since she seems to gravitate toward self-deprecation like I do.

First, let me tantalize you with a bit from the interview, and then you can go on over and check the rest out for yourself.

Without further ado, here’s the interview.

How would you introduce yourself to a crowded room eager to hang on your every word? Are you just a poet, what else should people know about you?

I think my first approach would be self-deprecation; in fact, I’d probably make a joke about having spent quite a few years in costumes and wigs singing and dancing. I find that once one admits to an improbable love for musical theatre, any crowd immediately relaxes.

When writing poetry, prose, essays, and other works do you listen to music, do you have a particular playlist for each genre you work in or does the playlist stay the same? What are the top 5 songs on that playlist? If you don’t listen to music while writing, do you have any other routines or habits?

I love listening to music as I write! I used to listen to music with lyrics, but, much in the same way that I can’t stay up too late anymore, I can’t focus on my own songs these days while someone else is singing to me. So lately I’ve been listening to, and trying to teach myself something about, traditional Indian music and orchestral music. I like what it does to my brain and what it does for a budding poem’s potential tone or atmosphere. At the moment I’m especially into Arvo Pärt, John Adams, and Erik Satie.

How do you stay fit and healthy as a writer?

I run quite a bit, but I don’t have any desire to run in races or anything like that. For some reason (and this may sound unreasonably kinky and/or ascetic), pounding my body into submission gives my mind more clarity. Plus my regular running route takes me through the park so I can check out the birds. Hawks! Herons!

Also check out a sample of her poetry:

A Rauschenberg Conversation

“The artist’s job is to be a witness to his time in history.”
-Robert Rauschenberg

He asked me about the painting that’s black. Just black.

And wondered if its blackness is somehow representative

of the twenty-first century dead, dead because we had

every opportunity and blew every opportunity and I sd,

No. This was painted during the twentieth and so reflects

an apocalyptic return to what’s original and what’s more

original? No. I see possibility in futures that will contain

the hum of a breathing machine carried in an easy breeze

through a window just to catch in the arms of a potted tree.

This is the twenty-first century. Encoded in the DNA

of every living thing is a sketch of the man or woman

that will bear witness to your demise, my demise,

the demise of a pet that in sleep twitches in an incalculable

pet dream world and all the while Florida will grow more

Florida with its sun, prehistoric mid-section sprouting

embarrassingly thick, dark hair where hair should never

grow. And I reminded him: Below the black is a strip

of news and the news, I guess, never ends even after

history has etched its loss and its gain into recusant

material, I mean recyclable. In the middle of the gallery

he just looked at me, at the painting, back at me

and said, Where is the human figure? What happened

to the figure who in terrible gesture remakes the air

around him? Isn’t he both the blackness and the news

and isn’t he, asleep in amnion, even then, before birth

and after stellar reconnaissance, the textbook definition,

the end and the all that is and was—no god , no fall?

Please check out the rest of the interview on 32 Poems Blog.

  • bookworm

    nice interview! I can relate to what she says about running, there is something zen after the rush of the run is over. Interesting poem also.
    bookworm´s last blog post ..Really Random Tuesday- New Blog Look- Im Freezing &amp A Teaser

    • I was never one for running, but after playing tennis I feel great. So I can see what you both mean by that.

  • I wish my brain worked well enough to listen to music while I write. I need quiet even to write my pitiful blog posts.

    • First, Kathy, your blog posts are not pitiful. Second, some people just need quiet…I’m not one of those people, but I think there are more who are.
      Serena´s last blog post ..Interview With Poet Lesley Jenike