A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jane Rosenberg LaForge

with Jane Rosenberg LaForge:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Jane: I suppose I started writing in fourth grade, when my class did a magazine project and the teacher noticed that I had something to say. My first influences were probably the poetry my father read to me–Poe, Edward Arlington Robinson, very general American literature. He also read A.E. Houseman to me, “Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff.”

Q2: Who are some of your biggest influences today?

Jane: That’s hard to say. I studied with Kate Braverman many years ago and she’s still in my head. My favorite writer is usually the one I’m reading right now, and I’ve been reading a lot of Robert Fisk; he’s a journalist who covered the Middle East for many years. He passed away last year.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?

Jane: I grew up in Los Angeles. (My new novel takes place in Los Angeles; that’s a little obvious.) I haven’t lived there for 26 years but I still pine for the place. That homesickness is a huge influence on my work. I am always remembering, trying to recreate, or perhaps capture anew the way the air feels there, the heat, the wind. I miss the sounds of the neighborhood I grew up in, the voices of my grandparents and parents. I miss the dryness, or I should say, the crispness, because the dry thing–drought–isn’t working out too well for everyone. I miss being small and everything looking big to me for a reason–because I was young. Now I’m just small because of my genes.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influenced your work/describe?

Jane: I traveled to Ireland with my family a few years back and then wrote a novel about an Irish soldier in World War I–does that count? That’s probably the most direct influence travel has had in my work. The absence–or my absence–from home also is huge.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Jane: I’ve wanted to be a writer for so long, I don’t think there was any pivotal moment. It’s just always been there

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Jane: Spending time with my husband and daughter; and friends; doting on my cats; reading.

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?

Jane:

My newest book of poems is Medusa’s Daughter, a collection about my mother. You can buy it here: https://animalheartpress.net/medusas-daughter/
My new novel is Sisterhood of the Infamous, a story of sibling rivalry, punk rock, and murder. You can buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Sisterhood-Infamous-Jane-Rosenberg-LaForge/dp/1734383534

Medusa's Daughter by Jane Rosenberg LaForge, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Q8: One of your favorite lines from a poem of yours?

Jane:

“…and when I speak/my voice leaves me silent.” This is from a poem I’m working on entitled “Girl in a Green Dress.”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Jane: I’d have to say my husband, because if he wasn’t around to support me emotionally and financially, I wouldn’t be able to write at all.

Links:

https://www.janerosenberglaforge.com/

https://thepoetryquestion.com/2019/12/04/tpq5-jane-rosenberg-laforge/

https://thebrokenspine.co.uk/spotlight-tbsac2-2/

https://longridgereview.com/jane-rosenberg-laforge/

Poems by Jane Rosenberg LaForge in Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020

In the Deaf Man's House
after Ilya Kaminsky

Don't call it a republic,
a coalition of hard listeners,
lip observers, grazing
up against the shorn
naked nerve endings
that fire into darkness.
This is not a country but
a punishment, to be perceived
as if dust surrounding words
and thoughts, a need for
affection, for guidance,
for questions: who invented
television? The running of
the grunions? The practice of
affixing silent book to arms
and foreheads? We'll never know,
though our father was full of sky,
his speeches to the clouds,
the sounds he could remember
like sprockets of a movie projector
ticking off commandments:
What thou shall hear
and another thou shall translate,
and what the last a pair shall
understand to be within the scope
of permitted interpretations
within the half-heard lyrics
and dialogue: obey
the nonsense.
Obey.

Oliver Plunkett, or the G Above High C

In the reliquary where the head
of the saint is secured in a prism,
the penitents kiss the surface,
then stand back to see their imprints
vanish, like covetous objects from
childhood, a mist populated by
dolls and matchbook cars, and
fabrics clutched in nightmares.
As adults they have come searching
for a glimpse of the true cross, a sliver
that might hover within the pantheon
of icons, a piece of death not in vain,
but with a purpose that withstands
decomposition. The tour guide
says this visage was rescued
from a pyre so worshipers might
partake in its vengeance, and each night,
at dinner, the penitents get theirs,
in the form of dressing down whatever
oppressed class they blame for
economic blight and political chaos.
But the Israelis: Oh, to see them and their country,
they say, because so much progress!
At the tour's end, they adjourn
to their homes, and consider how
only those like themselves might
reach the most arduous of notes
in devotion, as the saint did in his
passion, while sinners and protesters
cannot even begin to decipher
the voices of their idols
or the words from the tablets.

Sources and Illness

A plague makes splinters
of all bodies, recidivists
as well as innocents; their
mechanics revealed as if
a doll's, the one my father
promise he'd purchase
if I ate my spinach. A door
in her back revealed wheels
upon wheels, the complications
of turning against the status
quo ante, the unforgivable
act of indecisiveness.
My father said, "Eat your
spinach or your wheels won't
turn," because back then
there was always a chance
your wheels would seize
and reverse, skid until threads
were worn drown to stone
and sparks would appear where
there once was traction.
"There are dolls on fire
in China right this instant, "
my mother would scream,
for she had lived through
the same economic anxiety.

My father's property stretched
as far as I needed to see,
above the neighbor's swimming
pools, the road to school,
the dawn that breached
through mountains,
making a play for where
the moon had been. Worlds
were random in assigning
their wreckage in those days,
as the wheels in children
supposedly ran on all the same
wavelengths: glass in the soles
of feet, pox on the skins,
blisters and calluses on
palms and fingertips
from the rings on the playground
or holding the pencils
too tightly during the testing.

My pet tortoise died
from eating lettuce on
the patch of grass where
my father wished he was
growing lemons. We thought
age and inheritance commanded
the epidemics that raced
around the cul-de-sac, but
it was the roots and stems that
hosted pathogens. Living
things that were not sentinent
and yet they attached
themselves to our fears
and breaths as if they were
suckling infants, possessed
of a similar restiveness.
If we had known it was these
silent materials that threatened,
perhaps we would have
given them a voice, animation
or some other way clear
from the specter of breakage;
a method of beginning
again absent the wounds
we thought made us immune
and protected us.

Bio from 2020:
Jane Rosenberg LaForge is the author of a forthcoming poetry collection, 'Medusa's Daughter', from Animal Heart Press; and the forthcoming novel, 'Sisterhood of the Infamous', from New Meridian Arts Press. Her poetry has appeared in the forthcoming in the Loch Raven Review; the Broken Spine; Thorn Literary magazine; and 8Poems. She reads poetry for COUNTERCLOCK literary magazine and reviews books for American Book Review.