with J.D. Nelson
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
J.D.: When I was five years old, my parents bought me a subscription to Highlights for Children magazine, and one to Cricket magazine when I was six. These publications, along with nursery rhymes and other children’s literature, introduced me to poetry. The works of Dr. Seuss and Edward Lear, especially The Quangle Wangle’s Hat, were especially influential. I started writing poetry and little stories in second grade, from 1978 to 1979. I was encouraged by my teacher and my parents. When I was about six, I was experimenting with my parents’ typewriter, and I showed something that I’d created to my dad, who said that it reminded him of the work of e e cummings. He told me about the poet’s work, and this was the first that I’d heard of him. cummings was the first major poet I’d been introduced to.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
J.D.: My work is influenced by the Beat writers, especially the cut-up techniques pioneered by William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac’s spontaneous prose techniques. Most of my work is created through the cutting up and collaging of my own daily freewriting. My work is also influenced by the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets, Dada, and Surrealism. I studied visual arts in college, and this is where I was introduced to Dada and Surrealism. My poetry has been influenced more by the visual artists of these movements than it has been by the writers.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
I spent most of my childhood and adolescence in Boulder and Lafayette, Colorado. I lived in Trenton, New Jersey, where I was born, from third through fifth grades. I don’t feel as though these locations had any direct influence on my writing; I believe that I would be engaged in writing regardless of where I’ve lived.
It was on the west coast of Ireland, in The Burren near the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, where I decided that I was going to become a published poet. I was on a tour of the UK and Ireland after graduating from college in 1997, at the age of 26. I had been a lyricist and vocalist from the time I was a teenager, and I was starting to become very interested in poetry. I disappeared into some greenery away from the group I was with and made this decision. There was nothing in particular about the time or place that inspired me; Ireland is a magical land, and I believe that this may have had an influence. I think that being away from home for the first time gave me time to reflect upon completing my formal education and I started thinking about what I wanted to do next. I started keeping a binder with printouts of my poems soon after this trip.
Q4: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
J.D.: I am very excited about my forthcoming collection of poetry, in ghostly onehead, which is slated for a 2021 release in print by mOnocle-Lash Anti-Press. It is my first full-length collection. The seventy-five never-before-published poems were written over a period of 2,000 days, from July, 2015 to January, 2021.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
J.D.: For one week in fourth grade, my class participated in a poetry workshop with a young woman who was a poet. (I wish that I knew her name!) She took me aside and said that my work was very good, and that I would make a great poet. I remember that one of the poems I had written in the workshop was a haiku, in which I had described my pet anole’s tongue being “as pink as penicillin.” Her encouragement stands out to me as being a pivotal moment. This was forty years ago.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
J.D.: I enjoy walking my dog, spending time with my family and his three chickens, studying mysticism, and sports.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?
J.D.: For links to my published poems, including free e-books, please visit my website, http://www.MadVerse.com.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
J.D.: It’s hard to pick one. This can change from day to day, and a favorite line could be from a piece I’m working on, or something that strikes me when reviewing an older poem. I love the ending of “In the Desert” by Stephen Crane. This poem has long been one of my favorites. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46457/in-the-desert-56d2265793693
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
J.D.: My parents were an early influence. They taught me to read and write before I entered kindergarten, and they fostered in me a love of literature. My parents and brothers have been very supportive. Several women, who were my teachers throughout my early education, encouraged me. The feedback that I get from other poets and readers inspires me to keep going.
J. D. Nelson (b. 1971) experiments with words in his subterranean laboratory. His poetry has appeared in many small press publications, worldwide, since 2002. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Cinderella City (The Red Ceilings Press, 2012). His first full-length collection, entitled in ghostly onehead, is slated for a 2021 release by mOnocle-Lash Anti-Press. Visit http://www.MadVerse.com for more information and links to his published work. Nelson lives in Colorado.