How the Music of Joni Mitchell Played a Part in Jennifer Jean’s Poetry
This Week from The Common Podcast
Jennifer Jean speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her poem “California,” which appears on The Common online, in a special portfolio of writing from the Lusosphere (Portugal and its colonial and linguistic diaspora). Jean talks about writing this poem to be in conversation with Joni Mitchell’s song of the same title, and how music works its way into much of her poetry, in both rhythm and language. She also discusses writing her new poetry collection Object Lesson, which centers on trauma, and co-translating poems by Iraqi women poets with an Arabic translator.
From the episode:
Jennifer Jean: This poem is from a series of eco-poems that are centered around the place where I grew up in Southern California, and in that area when I was growing up, there was a kind of music called the “California sound.” When I’m writing this series, that music really factors in. It’s sort of in my DNA. In this series I tried to write some work that mirrors the rhythms, not just incorporating the words or lyrics.
Jennifer Jean’s poetry collections include The Fool and Object Lesson, out this year from Lily Books. Her teaching resource, Object Lesson: A Guide To Writing Poetry, is also out this year. Jennifer’s awards include a Kenyon Review Writers Workshop Fellowship, a DISQUIET Fellowship to write and study poetry in Portugal, a “Her Story Is” Residency (where she worked with Iraqi women artists in Dubai), and an Ambassador for Peace Award for her activism in the arts. She’s the translations editor for Talking Writing Magazine and the program manager of 24PearlStreet, the Fine Arts Work Center’s Online Writing Program. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and children. Learn more about Jennifer Jean and her work at jenniferjeanwriter.weebly.com and follow her on Twitter at @fishwifetales.
Emily Everett is managing editor of The Common magazine and host of the magazine’s podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily.