Your most recent publication, sorbet, is self-described as “a stream of conscious performance poem in 3 parts.” Is performance art and forms like it, such as spoken word poetry, fields you want to continue to pursue primarily?
it is definitely a primary interest of mine. performance in general: scriptwriting, performance poetry, performance art, theatre, even just thinking critically about my daily life outside of art. writing for some kind of stage is definitely the priority for me at the moment. this being said, I want to distance myself from slam poetry for a while. I cut my teeth on it this time last year when I moved to York, and it’s helped me meet some wonderful people and make some great connections, but I don’t know how suited I am to the form or the scene. I often find it pretty restrictive.
When writing a poem, where do you feel the line between retelling conversations end and telling your own narrative begin? Or is everything a personal narrative to begin with?
I don’t think I write any poem purely with the intention of retelling a conversation: there is always a secondary motive, there is always a personal narrative and a point I’m trying to emphasise. is that narcissistic? probably.
What are some of the writers and works that have stuck with you over the years, long after classroom sessions? What do you think is the most important quality when determining the strength of a poem or other work of art?
I am a big fan of Richard Brautigan’s novellas and poetry, and the plays of Caryl Churchill and Sarah Kane. I have also recently been reading Crispin Best and Sara Sutterlin, both of whom I really admire. and honestly, I don’t know what draws me to them. I think they all share a sweet and discordant kind of sadness, and a nonstandard approach to naturalistic depiction. they also share a melancholic edge that is both painfully modern but abstract enough to be universal. I don’t know what makes art good, but I think that’s what makes me like a piece of art.
You and I have both expressed love for the band Death Grips. Do you feel there is something extra transformative about this group due to their widespread popularity? Or is there nothing incredibly singular about what they do?
I love Death Grips. that being said I don’t think there is really one thing in particular that makes them so iconic. I think it might just be that there is little easily attainable material around that sounds anywhere similar to what they’re putting out. you could also say an element of their popularity stems from their antagonistic attitude towards their fan base and their objective memeability. I sound so cynical. I think they’re a really good band, believe me. I got tickets for their show in Manchester.
Do you find there is a disparity when it comes to involvement in independent publishing due to being a young poet? Is there any advice you would give to other aspiring writers?
independent publishing is always tricky, but it is definitely trivialised further when practised by young people. I feel like there is also a lot of unnecessary judgement from older independent poets that stems from elitism and prescriptivism, not to mention archaic and oppressive mentalities. but I love the work people my age are doing and the space they’re making for themselves. if I had to give other young people any advice it would probably be to just own the weird shit that you’re making and to just put it out there, because someone is going to appreciate it.
Where can we buy your material and how can we otherwise support you?
sorbet is still available via the glo worm press webstore for whatever price you would like to pay for it. very soon I will also be uploading a manuscript onto gumroad for people to download for money or not. I have a new poem in the newly released and very lovely second issue of Cherry Styles’ GRUB zine. I am also making a webseries called not me with my friend and collaborator Alex Rushfirth, the first episode of which will be uploaded to youtube in the next two weeks. details about all of these things can be found on my blog jennyholzer4americanapparel.tumblr.com 🙂
Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie