Jay Maria Simpson was born in Sydney, Australia. She worked as an English, Drama and Music Teacher for many years in schools, TAFE and the University of Newcastle. Jay has been a writer all her life. She moved to Perth, Western Australia in 2011 following a personal tragedy. It was then that her poetry exploded.
In her poetry she explores reality, change, sorrow, sex, anger, love, escape and memory.
Jay pushes the boundaries in her writing. She often writes from a dangerous, fearful place where you will find raw honesty. Her poems might also dance in a happy sexual fairy garden. There is no pretension.
Jay loves poetry, art, music, satire and black comedy. She also loves reading poetry publicly.
She is the Creative Director and Author at ‘Living Dangerously’.
Q1: When did you start writing and who influenced you the most now and currently?
Jay Maria: I think I always loved writing. Even as a small child, I would hide myself away and write on scraps of paper that I found. When my family was watching TV, I’d often be in my bedroom writing, mostly letters to family and friends. I always had pen and paper in my hand, never a doll, rarely a toy. When I travelled, I constantly wrote. For a short time, I rarely wrote anything – fulltime work, mortgage, husband, and family changed my focus.
I came back to writing, but especially poetry when I needed to deal with change and find the new. When my beloved daughter, Kate died in 2011: Katy, poetry and madness consumed me. I have not been able to stop writing poetry since then. It is my love, my centre. I was mostly influenced by life, music, art and lots of wonderful, challenging poets – Kerouac (of course), Bukowski, Plath, the list goes on.
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Jay Maria: Probably the death of my daughter and the reaction to my poetry from other poets who valued my writing.
Q3: Who has helped you most with writing and career?
Jay Maria: I appreciate a number of people who could see in my writing something that I was unable to see myself. Their support, encouragement, and belief in me is deeply appreciated. They are especially, Australian Artist Robert Williams – Perth Western Australia; American Poet, Victor Rainey – Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Irish Poet, Gene Barry – County Cork, Ireland and Italian/American Poet, Giulio Magrini – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?
Jay Maria: I grew up in Sydney, Australia. I come from a working-class background and a large loving Catholic family of 5 children. This shaped the person that I am and my ability to eventually shrug off convention and the catholic church. Travelling enriched my life and my ability to open my eyes to new worlds. To quote a friend, Kathleen Gilbert:
“Jay Maria Simpson looks the world in the eye and sees it as it is. She is intensely alive to the full range of experience, from deep love to unfathomable loss. She loves fiercely, and even in the depths of grief she keeps alive the light of positivity and hope.”
Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?
Jay Maria: My poetry – all of it
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Jay Maria: Art, music, family, long walks.
Q7: What is a favorite line/ stanza/lyric from your writing?
Jay Maria: Probably this, for now – from my poem ‘Tarantella’:
“We evoke your spirit, Vali’s spirit, the forever presence, the woman spirit
We care for your animals the hundreds that look for you in their sullen wantonness
We exist because you exist because art exists because we are the visitors of life and death”
Q8: What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or song that always come back to you as an inspiration?
Jay Maria: I don’t think I have one song or even a few songs. Music is often in the background when I write though sometimes, I prefer silence. I love 80’s rock – Patti Smith, Bowie, Lou Reed, The Cure, The Ramones; Contemporary Australian artists/bands – Something for Kate, Kate Miller Heidke, Megan Washington; Tool, A Perfect Circle; Jazz Ballads, Chet Baker and Cool Jazz à a la Kerouac; Classical, especially JS Bach.
Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, etc that you would like to promote?
Jay Maria: I have sent my first Manuscript for a book length anthology to a Publisher and await the outcome of that. I am recently published in Voices From the Fire Anthology Vol 9, Dumpster Fire Press, The Writer’s Club, Horror Sleaze Trash, Fevers of the Mind Showcase, Ukraine: The Night and the Fire Anthology, Drought Gudkov and Bedroom Anatomy Lessons Anthology, Dumpster Fire Press.
Bonus Question: Any funny memory or strange occurrence you’d like to share during your creative journey?
Jay Maria: That poetry could bring me to life and destroy me at the same time. I’m sure that is neither funny nor strange but there it is!