What’s the most difficult part of the writing process for you?
Probably getting out of the way and letting the poem be what it wants to be. Even after I’ve let an early draft rest for a while, I can still feel the original momentum and emotions of the poem, and it’s hard to not let that carry me away.
What’s your favorite book published within the last decade?
I feel lame, but I can’t answer this right now. I really enjoy talking with older people (grandparents, old guys at the gym, older parishioners at church), and it’s the same way with books as of late. Willa Cather and writers of her time are sitting on all of the new books, keeping them down.
We’d love to hear a little more about “Breakfast After Your Death.”
The poem, unfortunately, comes out of the experience of a friend’s death. He shot himself in his car at a beautiful park in Minnesota where I used to hike. He was one of those solid, quiet people who you count on to always be there, and to have him die in a place I knew well was additionally troubling to me. He came to me in a dream—the poem is the recounting of that dream—where he was so totally alive and I had the power to make something right for him. It was a healing poem for me to write. The poem moved me past my focus on his death and got me to his spirit.
I just realized that “Blue Plums” echoes with this same message—and through food as well. I guess I like food. I’m eating in “Lake Superior Pastoral” too.
If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be? Why?
I’m fascinated by the marriage of place and faith in Kathleen Norris’ work, as those are two themes that are important to me. I know her best through her nonfiction, like her book Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, which still hums for me. She just seems like an interesting person who could tell stories—my first and second qualifications for drinking partner.
What are you working on now? What’s next?
I’ve revising my book-length poetry manuscript, The Cold Reaches, for submission to contests. And the rest of the time, I’m writing and revising new poems.
Our thanks to Jennifer for taking the time to answer a few questions and share her work. Read Jennifer’s three wonderful poems here: https://www.sequestrum.org/fandel