Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Jeremy: Thank you for giving me this opportunity. This is truly an awesome moment for me. I started to write back in 2016 when I was trying to get myself out of high school. It was a tough period for me. I was coping with the deaths of a few of my childhood friends that died in the earlier part of 2016. My first influence as a writer was when I lost my uncle to death. In order to express my grief about his death, I became a writer. My uncle’s death was the biggest influence on me becoming a writer.
Q2: Who is your biggest influence today?
Jeremy: Today my biggest influence is my mother. Whenever I look into my eyes I am urged to write more. I want her to see the best in me as I tell our stories. My mother has been my first supporter and she remains my biggest influence. I believe her stories of motherhood need to be heard.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?
Jeremy: I grew up in Logan Town, one of the many slum communities situated in Monrovia, Liberia. In Logan Town we struggle to survive everyday and the reality of you being a dweller in Logan Town comes with a lot of consequences. These things have shaped and influenced me in being honest and real when telling a story in a poem. Nineteen years of my life were spent struggling to withstand the outcomes of a slum dweller.
Q4: Have any travels away from home influenced your work/describe?
Jeremy: Yes, my father leaving Liberia for Ghana when I was still a baby trying to plant the word “mama” on my tongue has influenced my work. My childhood was centered mostly on my mother and her sister. I don’t have any childhood memories with my father. My father plays no role in my childhood. I have tried my best to write about these things in my poems. I have tried to write how I longed to have a father in my childhood. My father’s travel to Ghana was a major turning point in my life.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a poet/writer?
Jeremy: Yes, after my uncle’s death. The period after his death I told myself that if I want to tell a better story of my grief and pain I need to become a poet. And today I am a poet.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Jeremy: When I am not writing, I am reading. This makes me feel more relaxed. Also, I find myself watching legal movies and documentaries, especially the OJ Simpson’s Trial. These things help me to relax when I am not writing.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming work you’d like to promote?
Jeremy: In a few months my chapbook, Miryam Magdalit, will be out. Miryam Magdalit was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani (The African Poetry Book Fund), in collaboration with Akashic Books, for the 2021 New-Generation African Poets chapbook box set. It can be pre-order through this link: http://www.akashicbooks.com/catalog-tag/jeremy-teddy-karn/
Q8: What would be one of your favorite lines from a poem of yours?
“We have swallowed this country down our throats with the blood of those shot dead, and rebuilt it on unmarked graves.”
These lines were taken from a poem titled: My country’s lullaby. It was published in Liminal Transit Review. This is the link to the poem: https://liminaltransitreview.com/issue-one/my-countrys-lullaby/
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Jeremy: My writer friends have helped me the most when it comes to my writing. Their critiques on my works have helped me in becoming a better poet now than I was before.
Jeremy T. Karn writes from somewhere in Liberia. His work has appeared and is forthcoming in 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry Volume III, The Whale Road, Ice Floe Press, ARTmosterrific, The Rising Phoenix, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Lolwe, Minute Magazine, FERAL Poetry, Liminal Transit Review, The Kissing Dynamite, Ghost Heart Literary Journal, and elsewhere.
His chapbook, Miryam Magdalit, has been selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani of The African Poetry Book Fund, in collaboration with Akashic Books, for the 2021 New-Generation African Poets chapbook box set.