Aright y’all it’s again that time! This week the Collective welcomes Jessica Quick to the Feature series dialogue! Jessica is coming from a place and space unable to be captured by one setting or time. She brings a perspective shaped through elbow-rubbing experiences traversing time zones across the globe, expressed through her creative writing. Anchored in mood and narrating through observation, Jessica takes the time to dive into her interpretation of Reflection and Response, providing a pint of insight into her path thus far. Take a look at her interview and her poem Daffodils below. Enjoy the ride; Bon Voyage.
A city’s mood, its mannerisms, its charisma (or lack thereof) reflect in its inhabitants and its architecture, and I like those things to feed into my reconstruction of a city through words.
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
JQ: I’m from Simi Valley, California, a synclinal suburb squatting outside of Los Angeles. Its geography and demography made it perfect for routine brush fires and a large population of conservative right-ists when I was growing up. It’s an awkward little city, and I’ve come to appreciate its quirks. In doses.
In the past few years, I’ve lived in Harlem, Seoul, San Francisco, Madrid, and I’ve just relocated to Brooklyn a week ago. I’m looking forward to sticking around and getting back in touch with some old literary haunts, as well as my writing projects. I’m juggling a few ideas, and I think New York is the perfect place to explore them.
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
JQ: Reflection! A necessary trait of response that’s learned with time, I suppose. I’ve traveled a bit, and it always takes me a long time to arrive at a place where I feel I can appropriately reflect on a city. What I like to do is feel out (and up?) places through my writing. I love infusing their bodies into my poetry. A city’s mood, its mannerisms, its charisma (or lack thereof) reflect in its inhabitants and its architecture, and I like those things to feed into my reconstruction of a city through words. Like getting to know someone new, attaining depth of a place just takes a little time. I wrote about New York when I was in Seoul, about Seoul often when I was in Madrid. And I still haven’t touched my hometown.
How does your writing fit in with that definition?
JQ: Although I like using my travel experience in my writing, I try to avoid relying too heavily on personal perspective. For example, I like creating stories that are not necessarily my own, but in a setting with which I’m familiar. Or I’ll use a mood that I may have felt in a certain city, but explore new lyrical narratives in a poem. I strive towards creation and embellishment over accuracy in retelling my response to a place. Maybe that makes me a liar. But I like telling stories. I think it’s boring and a bit vain if they’re all mine.
What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?
JQ: I’m working on my first poetry collection, The Liminal Parade. It’s about spaces between here and there. I like writing about travel limbos, like subways, elevators, long plane rides. I’m also paying attention to certain psychological in-betweenness that mirror in those subways, elevators, and long plane rides – traveling for long periods of time without destination, waiting for someone to arrive, and indecisiveness are things I’m teasing out in my poetry. I like writing about hybrid existences because it hits close to home, both with my travel and with my mixed ethnicity. I’ve dwelled in the in-between and it’s an awkward, beautiful place.
I have a few other projects in mind for the future and the now. I’ve been talking to a few artists about comic book ideas and collaborations on creating some illustrated poetry, which I’m very excited about. I’m a huge comic fan, and the prospect of writing one makes my nerd heart skip a beat.
Who or what inspires you?
JQ: On the topic of comics, Daniel Clowes and Jason Lutes are my favorites for their dark humor and stark aesthetics. The Hernandez Bros. and Chris Ware are also stunning, although Ware makes me want the world to be a better person.
For poets, my current obsession is Frank O’Hara because I spent so much time writing about him for my MA thesis, which compared O’Hara and Lorca’s poetry in New York. I appreciate his unabashed exhilaration with life in his poetry, and how much his personality shows. And if O’Hara were still alive, I’m pretty sure he would be the coolest person in the world.
Of course, big cities inspire me as well as the people I meet. I am indebted to the city dwellers – from the rush hour flautist in Tokyo to my life-long companions. They accompany my memories of the cities I have grazed in my wanderings.
Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
JQ: We are poised in an interesting moment in history. From the state of the world economy, to the persistent race for technological advancements and subsequent dependency, we are witnessing rapid change in the world around us. We are responsible for how we choose to respond to these changes. To artists, I encourage you to create something beautiful in reflection of the environment around you.
Shout out to…
JQ: Big love to all the creators and rabble-rousers. You make the world go round. And a big shout to a very talented jazz musician, my inspiration, and my husband-to-be, Daniel Stark.
Daffodils by Jessica Quick:
The first poem I ever wrote
was written by Wordsworth,
a posture of lines followed by
a school teacher’s request:
“Please see me after class.”
I never showed and
swallowed my first D –
literary theft on record
as enraged or defensive.
Years later, I found myself
writing poem after poem about daffodils.
Bought them any chance I could get.
I filled large suitcases with piles
of laughing heads and moved
to distant corners of the world.
Every town I visited,
I left solitary specimens
behind nondescript buildings
and cheap hotel rooms.
I remember one figure
splayed out like a brown
carcass of envy squatting
on the menu of a fish restaurant
in old Beijing.
After the last, I moved to an island at the edge of a map,
where (they said) daffodils could never grow.
I spent my days planting gardens near tough rocks.
At night, I counted holes in obscure constellations
where great, big, burning stars used to be.
Keep up with more of Jessica’s work at her website: www.jessicaquick.wordpress.com
Also check out Penumbra Magazine, which Jessica co-founded in 2012. She is currently the Poetry Editor for the magazine: www.penumbramagazine.wordpress.com
Reflection and Response.