In The Field: Conversations With Our Contributors–Jonathan Greenhause

by Feb 4, 2019

1. Tell us about your poem in Volume 20. How did it come to be?

“You’re the deciduous forest” was written a few years ago while I was writing a lot of poems that were basically litanies of contradictory statements. In truth, I tend to write quite a few of these. This one is particularly interested in exploitation, whether it be environmental or work-related.

2. What was an early experience that led to you becoming a writer?

When I was in 5th grade, I wrote a serial called “The Time of Dinosaurs,” reading it to my whole class every Friday. It was an original creation about a boy who goes back in time with his tiny dinosaur friend, though it may have included some unauthorized characters, such as Garfield, Fred Flintstone, and Danger Mouse. (I wasn’t too versed in copyright violations at the time.) The immensely positive audience reaction pretty much sealed the deal for me.

3. How has writing shaped your life?

I left for Argentina upon graduating from college, spent 4 years in Buenos Aires and Mendoza while writing a series of horrible manuscripts I’d hoped would one day turn into bestselling critically-acclaimed novels, and slowly gravitated towards only writing poetry. Upon returning to the U.S., I became a Spanish interpreter, which allows me plenty of time to write, rewrite, and send out my poems into the greater world. Also, I married an extraordinarily talented writer with whom I immediately connected in large part because we’re both writers. In short, I have no idea who the hell I’d be now if it weren’t for writing.

René Magritte, The False Mirror, Paris 1929 (Photo from The Museum of Modern Art)

4. What books, writers, art, or artists inspire you and your work?

I mention this in almost every interview, but here I go again: Camus, Camus, Camus. The Plague is my favorite book, and every time I think about it I wish I could one day write something as phenomenal as that. The same goes with One Hundred Years of Solitude. And Leaves of Grass. And To the Lighthouse. And Moby Dick. Before I realized I’d never be a good painter, I prayed at the altar of Magritte, Picasso, Miró, Monet, and Rivera.

5. What projects or pieces are you working on right now?

I just finished a series of 90 sonnets, most of which are probably never going to see the light of day. I usually don’t have “projects” so much as I have loose configurations of similar forms and subject matter. It’s hard nowadays NOT to write about the current political climate, but I do try to mix it up a bit. I’m going to my first writing retreat in May [2018], so I’m very curious to see what comes out of it.

Visit Jonathan’s website.



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