Q1: When did you start writing and whom influenced you the most now and currently?
Jessica: I remember knowing that I was going to be a writer/poet when I was six years old. I had always had poetry forming in my mind at a very young age. I have been influenced by so many poets throughout my life. I remember as a child being immersed in work by Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and Jesse Stuart. I would spend hours at the college library in Morehead, Kentucky reading over Jesse Stuarts papers in a special collection they store there. As time went on, I was influenced by Sylvia Plath, Mary Oliver and many of my poet friends who I currently read. I have an eclectic taste in poetry.
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Jessica: I believe I was born a writer/poet. I honestly don’t have many memories where poetry was not forming in my brain. I do believe the death of my father at the age of 5 brought in reflection of myself which may have led to the writing, but I do believe it has always been who I am.
Q3: Who has helped you most with writing and career?
Jessica: I had an amazing composition teacher in high school who truly fed my creativity in poetry. She would enter my work into contests and introduced me to the world of poetry, creative writing, editing, and how to create my work into chapbooks. A teacher can change a life. She did guide mine for sure.
Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?
Jessica: I was born in Hardin County, Ohio but at the age of four we relocated to the Appalachian Hills of Eastern, Kentucky. Growing up in the mountains has influenced my writing quite a bit as I write about the wonderful people of Appalachia and the hardships they face there. I also draw a lot of my work from the beautiful and mystic land of the mountains.
Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?
Jessica: My most meaningful work creatively to me would be the book I am currently working on, Down Below Where the Canary Sings, which is poetry derived from growing up back home in Appalachia. I have to say all of my work has gotten me to where I am today, but this book means a lot to me.
Q6: What are your favorite activities to relax?
Jessica: I love to listen to music to relax and visit the mountains as often as I can. Music helps me creatively to open my mind for work to come through. I will go back home to Eastern Kentucky and spend time in the peace and quiet of the mountains which helps reflection. Watching the wildlife there and just basking in nature refuels me.
Q7: What is a favorite line/ stanza/lyric from your writing?
Jessica: I do have a hard time choosing a favorite stanza or line from my work as I am quite critical of myself and what I write but I would have to say this stanza from a poem, “Leonard’s Juliet” which has recently been chosen to be published in, Appalachia Unmasked, published by Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel does strike me.
A marriage of dearth and whimsy, charted in the incandescent night, far above the charred world of slate dumps. Q8: What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that always come back to you as an inspiration? Jessica: I was and am forever a drummer. I listen to every kind of music under the sun from classical, jazz, pop, rock, rap, R&B, blue grass, country, alternative; all of it. I have a very eclectic musical ear. My husband and son are also musicians, so all music is on our radar. Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, projects that you would like to promote? Jessica: I am currently working on my next collection of poetry, Down Below Where the Canary Sings. It is a collection of work from growing up in Appalachia and through that lens. I am aiming for 2023 with my daughter, Laura Bentley, illustrating the cover art like she did for Crimson Sunshine by AlyBlue Media 2020. Bio: Jessica Weyer Bentley is an poet, author, and public speaker. Her first collection of poetry, Crimson Sunshine, was published in May 2020 by AlyBlue Media. She has contributed work to several publications for the Award-Winning Book Series, Grief Diaries, including Poetry and Prose, and Hit by a Drunk Driver. Jessica’s work has been anthologized in Women Speak Vol. 6 (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions), Summer Gallery of Shoes (Highland Park Poetry), Common Threads 2020 Edition (Ohio Poetry Association), Appalachian Witness Volume 24 (Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel) and Made and Dream (Of Rust and Glass), Psalms of the Alien Buddha Part 2 (Alien Buddha) and online blogs including Global Poemic and Fevers of the Mind Poetry Showcase and a Wolfpack Contributor 2022. She recently was featured in her first magazine entitled Summer 2022 (Of Rust and Glass). She is currently penning her second collection, Down Below Where the Canary Sings slated to be out in 2023. Jessica currently resides in Northwest Ohio. 3 poems from Jessica Weyer Bentley Poetry influenced by Sylvia Plath from Jessica Weyer-Bentley Poetry: Materfamilias by Jessica Weyer Bentley New Poetry by Jessica Weyer Bentley https://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Weyer-Bentley/e/B088T4PDHS%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share https://alybluemedia.com/bentley/ https://deadmule.com/jessica-weyer-bentley-poem-july-2022/ https://www.alibris.com/Crimson-Sunshine-Jessica-Weyer-Bentley/book/47643019 https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/crimson-sunshine-jessica-weyer-bentley/1137054459
Don’t know how I missed this! Great interview! Sharon