with Jesse Miksic:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Jesse: In high school, I stumbled across a poetry anthology in an otherwise useless creative writing class, and discovered e e cummings’ poem “Since feeling is first.” It resonated so strongly — especially with those closing lines — it’s still one of the poems I most identify with.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Jesse: Though I feel like my work is all over the place, my favorites right now are Bianca Stone, whose ongoing work has shown me how to stretch all the way through and beyond the traditional confines of lyric poetry, and Li-Young Lee, whose whole mode of thinking feels like home to me. I’m also influenced (and overwhelmed) every day by the poets whose work I follow on Twitter, who are living and struggling to create beautiful things in these unsettled times.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?
Jesse: I grew up in the northeastern United States, in the cities and suburbs (Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC). As a result, my poetry is concerned with some particular transitions: from urban energy to domestic suburban, and I think they are inflected with an outsider’s fascination with the wild. Of course, I was also brought up with video games and nerd culture and SFF film and TV, and I lived through the 90’s incarnations of punk and Internet culture, so all of those can be seen as boundaries and borders in my work, as well.
Q4: Have any travels away from home influence your work/describe?
Jesse: I carry all the places I’ve been within me, and they all show up in poems from time to time. I’ve written about Thailand, various beaches, and my parents’ and grandparents’ places of origin in upstate New York. But these are probably less central to my writing than the tricky cosmopolitan virtual world I’ve adopted as a child of the Internet age.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a poet/writer?
Jesse: More of a line of personal evolution, starting with the genre literature I loved (JRR Tolkien, Stephen King) and then moving through my own experiments with writing. The poem as a format was a special place to be experimental, to supercollide my various literary and intellectual modes. Because of the freedom and the connection with parts of my mind I don’t normally access so readily, it’s become my favorite mode in recent years.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Jesse: At the moment, I mostly relax by scribbling in notebooks, listening to poetry and philosophy podcasts. However, I always know I can go back to some old favorites: watching movies of the cultish and popcorn varieties, rewatching my favorite anime, and playing video games with good stories.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?
Jesse: I don’t have much besides what’s posted on my normal social media feeds: @miksimum (Twitter) for general musing and poetry links/boosts, and @miksimum (Instagram) for photography and drawings. For a rundown of my published poetry (pretty much all available online), my website has it: http://www.miksimum.com/publications
Q8: What is one of your favorite lines from your writings/poetry?
“The stillness gathered
The voices like a chisel
And sculpted the light”
(from Town Park as Tuning Fork, https://www.miksimum.com/publications/Miksic-TownPark.html)
Or my favorite things from others? My favorite line of love poetry is still cummings’:
“for life’s not a paragraph / And death i think is no parenthesis”
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Jesse: A big shout out to Laura Kaminski, who was instrumental in the first piece I ever had accepted (in Right Hand Pointing #116), whose advice has seen me through a great deal of my slow-simmering poetry career, and who has also been a champion of my work at Praxis Magazine Online, a publication I’m proud to have some work in. Also to Jay Besemer, who has encouraged and challenged me through some truly rewarding discussion and correspondence. And to everyone participating in #TopTweetTuesday every week.