Every once in a while the universe presents you with a gift. About eight years ago I received such a gift, when I was presented with the poetry of Jeremy J. Wood. He had a blog at the time that he posted random bits to. He posted his super cool drawings, his bear series is crazy good, but one evening while not sleeping I came across his poetry.
Why hadn’t he spoken about this? Why was it something that he featured? I felt like I found buried treasure and Nicholas Cage was about to bust in and catch me. So I read one, looked around realized I wasn’t on Cage’s map and dove in. I spent hours reading and re-reading his pieces. They were so personal, yet they could have been about anyone. When I asked him about these pieces he almost shrugged them off as if it was nothing. Writers are never pleased with what they put to paper, but I personally felt they were brilliant; each one a slice of a life, an emotion, a moment.
If you get the chance to know him, you quickly realize that even though he was born in Oklahoma and raised in the “Great State of Texas,” he is not the typical Texas boy. He’s complicated with a wicked wit and self-doubt about his talent that pours itself onto a page. Thankfully, I finally had the opportunity to corner this ornery dude and ask him just a few questions.[hr color=”light-grey” width=”100″ border_width=”50.” ]
My need for expression. Growing up, my family didn’t talk about feelings. I needed to express all of the happiness, frustration, anger, love, fear… everything that I couldn’t share with my parents.
So your parents had an influence over you and what you wrote?
I wrote, drew, and acted on stage despite my parents. They saw any creative endeavor to be a waste of time. They didn’t have an influence on me, as much as they drove me to it.
What is your process? Do you find a story in everyday life or is it your darkest secrets or moments?
Words just go on the paper. I’ll notice a stranger and wonder who they are, what they’re thinking about, how they grew up. If I’ve had a bad day and I want to just let it all out, I write.
So it comes out organically. Do you edit a piece ever or just let it lie.
It does. There is very little planning. Though sometimes I will sit on a poem for weeks, months if it’s not right.
How do you know if it’s right?
How do I know when it’s finished?
Yes. You said you might sit on it for months.
When it just feels right… if I can read it and it takes me to that moment or makes me remember.
The first time you got up to do an open reading, what was that experience like for you? Aside from nerves, did you feel that you were giving away part of yourself by letting people in that way? Did it make you feel exposed?
It was surreal. Public speaking is not something I usually do. I rehearsed in front of a mirror. I was terrified just looking at myself. Knowing that I would be sharing my poems with strangers made my heart pound. Writing them down, putting them on a blog, wasn’t enough. I had to share them in my own voice. Even though the prospect gave me a panic attack, I took my most intimate poems with me.
When you shared those intimate moments with these strangers, was it in any way cathartic for you? After seeing a reaction to your work, did you change your point of view? In other words did you start thinking about the reader at all or was it still very organic for you?
It was definitely a purge. I don’t remember the reaction to my work (aside from polite applause). I remember feeling relieved and proud that I shared this part of me with strangers. It’s still an organic process for me.
The art of poetry has changed a great deal over the years. Do you relate more to the contemporary writers or the classical?
Contemporary. By far. My writing is quick with few words. I tell just enough of the story so that the reader will have to fill in the details from their own experiences.
Are you concerned that your meaning will get lost by leaving so much open for the reader?
As soon as someone else reads it, it’s no longer mine.
Last question, to borrow and paraphrase from The Actors Studio, if heaven exists and God was Bukowski, what would you want to hear him say to you?
I’m as surprised as you are.[hr color=”light-grey” width=”100″ border_width=”50.” ]
— felicia c waters | @feefeelarue