In The Field: Conversations With Our Contributors–Kasey Jueds
1. Tell us about your poems in Volume 21, “That Far North” and “Drought.” How did they come to be?
Both “That Far North” and “Drought” are typical and not-typical for me. Many of my poems arise from particular and beloved landscapes, and these two definitely do: the Catskill Mountains (the woods in “That Far North”) and the San Francisco Bay Area (the trail in “Drought”). But the poems are quirky/unusual in the sense that the others who inhabit them are actual, real people. So often when I write, a poem’s “you” or other is an imagined person, or a combination/hybrid of loved people, or an aspect of myself, or not actually a person at all.
2. What excites you as a writer? What turns you off, makes you turn away or stop reading a piece of writing?
When I read, I think I most want what a poet friend of mine once called “old-fashioned”: I want to be moved, to feel. She wasn’t being critical when she said that! But it surprised me, and I’ve never forgotten it. I hope that feeling deeply, in response to art, never goes out of fashion. I don’t need to receive or be moved to any particular kind of feeling when I read. I just (just!) want to have a sense of an individual soul illuminating the poem. (That doesn’t mean I only want poems that feel explicitly autobiographical or narrative or confessional, though I love many poems that are members of those particular families.)
3. What was an early experience that led to you becoming a writer?
Living near the Everglades in south Florida as a child. We visited the park all the time when I was little; I remember sawgrass, alligators, anhingas, and water and water and water. I think even then I wanted to respond, somehow, to this place I felt bonded to in a mostly wordless way. I keep feeling that desire, though it’s harder and harder for me to write about Florida. Partly because it is so far away in distance and time. But partly too because it’s a place where the effects of climate change and human habitation are especially terrifying and visible and present. There’s so much grief I don’t know how or where to begin.
4. What books, writers, art, or artists inspire you and your work? Do–or have–you had any mentors in your writing life?
It feels like a rich, deep time for poetry, for people practicing as poets. I love that there are so many of us. I get inspired and heartened by all the people writing and making and creating, particularly people making poems, even now, especially now. We don’t know what it’s doing or how it is helping – at least most of the time we don’t – but on good days I feel a sureness that it is helping – all of us pouring energy into art – even in ways so small and subtle we can barely register them.
5. What projects or pieces are you working on right now?
Slowly, on a second manuscript of poems.