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JARRED THOMPSON

IN CONVERSATION


JARRED THOMPSON graduated from Alabama State University with a Summa Cum Laude in English. He has been published in Typecast Literary Magazine, Type House Literary Magazine, The Best New African Poets Anthology of 2016, New Contrast Literary Journal and was longlisted for The Sol Plaatje Award and Anthology of Poetry and placed second in the Fitzgerald Museum Short Story Contest, a national contest for college students in the US. He currently resides in Johannesburg South Africa where he is at work on his Masters at the University of Johannesburg.


WHAT INSPIRED ONE OF YOUR POEMS?

In “Definitions of Men” I was inspired by the epigraph that I use at the start of the poem, taken from K Sello Duiker’s The Quiet Violence of Dreams. The epigraph spoke to me of the many attachments we place to words like “lovers” and “men” and how the co-habitation of those two word in a single sentence can cause an uncomfortable orientation for those of us living in a comfortable heteronormative world. I wanted to extend that discomfort throughout the poem, taking words associated with masculinity—and its subsequent anathemas—in order to produce similar disorientations that could open up new ways of seeing words and their associated meanings.

TELL US AN OBSCURE THING YOU FIND INTERESTING ABOUT THE WORLD?

Currently I’m reading a lot of phenomenological writing dealing with the borders of bodies and spaces. I find the interactions between bodies and spaces very interesting, especially in the sense of how bodies use space or how spaces impact on the movements we allow our bodies to do. It all seems to boil down to the porous borders of the self and what we can say accurately constitutes the self. This can be a puzzling existential conundrum.

WHAT ODD, FUNNY OR INTERESTING FACT CAN YOU SHARE ABOUT YOUR WRITING HABITS OR PROCESS?

I find I get really good ideas for writing in a hot bubble bath. I think it’s the feeling of a relaxed body that somehow allows fresh ideas to surface.

How important is language and/or word choice to your writing?

Word choice is very crucial in my writing because it helps to bring subtleties to the writing that would otherwise go ignored if I hadn’t thought through the intention of a particular word in a particular place in a poem or larger body of work.

Are there any themes or reoccurring threads that you try to explore in your writing? 

I think my work always tries to wrestle with inherent paradoxes and ambiguities in realities that cannot be looked at any other way than creatively. This is expressed poignantly in Universes and Paradoxes which was my attempt at facing that ontological gap between lived experience and language. In the poem itself I wrestled with the potential of paradox and how the many realities of the universe constantly seem to be working against the structure of language which wants to reduce things to black and white, good and bad.

Is there something you find particularly difficult about the writing process?

The most difficult part for me seems to be keeping the self-doubting part of myself consistently silent. But as I’ve come to learn, arriving at your writing desk to attempt something is victory enough somedays.

How much research do you do when writing?

I think research only really comes into play when I’m dealing with a topic I don’t feel like I know enough on or with an idea that I’ve come across which requires further fleshing out in terms of the history of that idea and the people who’ve developed it.

what's an underrated (or little recognized) book you love?

Matric Rage by South African poet Genna Gardini is a little treasure trove of beautiful poems for me. Gardini is particularly aware of the nuance of diction and imagery as she weaves into her work meditations on chronic illness, femininity and words in general. Her playfull and lyrical use of language is something I seriously admire in her poetry.

What is your most recent work and where can readers find it?

My recently published short story “Gutting Instincts” can be read in the Johannesburg Review of Books: GUTTING INSTINCTS

LASTLY, WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK 'KINGDOMS IN THE WILD'?

Kingdoms in the Wild symbolizes for me the harnessing of the natural creative force of living in order to create places and bodies of artistic expression that capture the irrational, wild aspect of human existence.

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ABOUT IN CONVERSATION

What makes a writer write? What resides behind the impulse to create a work of art?  We have always been interested in these questions here at KITW. Incredibly, we’ve received such varied responses to the same questions from each of our published writers, that we thought we’d share.

We hope you enjoyed your visit to Kingdoms in the Wild and as always, thank you for your support.

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CREDITS: in this issue
Author: JARRED THOMPSON
Editor: Lydia S.
Original Image: Unsplash
Graphic Design: Shompole, N.L.