December 26, 2011

coming to terms with suburbia

I cupped my hand, inched
you, forgotten friend,
closer. We caught

up over coffee
at one of your Star-
bucks. You offered

to pay, typical
you. “Everything’s on
the house,” you said,

“This venti cup, these
rich mahogany
chairs, those million

passing cars, a blank
check for property.”
When you left, I

closed my eyes for a
second and lost you
among the cars,

moving from one place
to another like the formal nomad
who never understood “lost.”

zachary heine (Sherman, TX, 1991)

December 20, 2011

A word or two with... Jessie Carty

Young American Poets is proud to introduce the first installment in a series of interviews which we have dubbed A word or two with... This new section will offer insights into the work and life of our contributors and intends to become a medium for further discussion of poetry in our site. Also, it sort of celebrates our first three years online.

Jessie Carty (Portsmouth, VA, 1975) defines herself as poet, blogger, wife, teacher and herder of cats. She is the author of five poetry collections, including the upcoming chapbook An Amateur Marriage (Finishing Line, 2012) and the award-winning Paper House (Folded Word, 2010). Her writing has appeared in publications such as MARGIE, decomP and Connotation Press. She teaches at RCCC in Concord, NC, and is the founding editor of Referential Magazine.

early memories
I remember making up “songs” on the long bus ride home when I was about 5. They largely involved dandelions.

on influences
As a child I was fascinated with Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Seuss – the usual. As a teen I loved William Blake. As an adult I am constantly finding new poets to love. I think I loved Stevenson and Dr. Seuss for the way they painted images with words. Blake was a fascination because of the symbolism he used. I don't even try to do much with symbolism now, but I loved how he tried to build this whole world around himself. I guess, as a writer, I've always been looking for a “home”.

what's in a name?
When I am around other writers I tend to call myself a poet but with my students I lean towards the word writer. I think just calling yourself a poet can distance you from some people. They see poetry as some odd sort of thing. And, in all honesty, I have published in other genres and continue to write in them (just not as much as poetry) so why not call myself a writer?

❝ I think just calling yourself a poet
can distance you from some people.
They see poetry as some odd sort of thing ❞

day jobs
I worked for nine years as an auto insurance claims adjuster before I went back to graduate school and switched over to teaching. I did the adjunct and freelance thing before starting full time English instructing at a community college in the Fall of 2011.

on the writing process
These days all of my poems start in a notebook I carry with me. I draft them by hand, not really revising in the notebook much at all. Within the same week (usually) I then type up the poems, making edits as I go along. I keep the poem in a New/Revise document in Google docs so I can access it everywhere. I keep making edits until it “feels” complete. I don't really have a particular time of day although I tend to write in the notebook at night while I tend to type items up in the morning or afternoon in between classes and other responsibilities.

on submissions
I save all of my writing in a Ready2Sub document and then I go through a list of possible places to submit and select where I would like to send my work. I tend to submit once a week if I have anything ready to send out. I make my submit list yearly (but I do add as I learn about new places) after reviewing CRWOPPS, Poets Market, Poets & Writers, and the suggestions of others. I've learned with acceptance and rejection that the piece you often think is the “best” or “worst” usually isn't the same to an editor so don't take any of that personally. It is a very subjective process in many ways. Just keep writing and looking for the words that are best for you. If you are submitting for the first time I'd say: do your homework. Read articles about how to submit and research the markets you are considering sending your work to.

❝ I've learned with acceptance and rejection that the piece you often think is the “best” or “worst” usually isn't the same to an editor so don't take any of that personally ❞

chapbooks, books
Three of my chapbooks are currently in print and I have a fourth one coming out in March of 2012. Each of mine have been released by a different publisher so I didn't produce my own. I also have a full length collection of poems that was published in 2010 by Folded Word Press. I had set up Folded Word back in 2008 but I transferred ownership of it as I moved on to other projects. The new editor later asked me to submit a book for consideration. I had that same book circulating to contests and such, but it was great to work with an editor who really pushed me to make the book a cohesive unit.

the MFA experience
I attended the low-residency program at Queens University of Charlotte. I loved my experience there. I originally attended because I had thoughts of teaching, but mostly because I wanted to write in a community of writers. I found that. I also thought that I would complete my degree while working full time (thus not worrying about the cost so much), but an MFA changes you. I ended up quitting my job six months into the program.

the poetry scene
I keep in touch with poets in person and online. I love both communities! Charlotte, NC, has quite a few reading series and open mics. Our state as a whole has a wonderful selection of poets and poetry events to attend. I trade books with a lot of my poetry friends which keeps me up on contemporary American poetry. I see a lot of terrific work coming out. We are all learning, but isn't that part of the poetic journey?

now reading
I'm currently reading Lessons in Forgetting by Malaika King Albrecht and it is the first book of poems I can think of in a long time that brought me to tears. Just amazing.

found on YAP
Going back at names I know and love I have to bull Bryan Borland out. We've had such a great online relationship over the last few years. His poems show so much of what I love about contemporary poetry because they take a bit of pop culture and weave it into the timeless.

* * *


At the A & P Meridiem (Pudding House, 2009), The Wait of Atom (Folded Word, 2009), Paper House (Folded Word, 2010), Fat Girl (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2011)

Further reading:

Jessie Carty's poetry on YAP

Jessie Carty's website: