Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Michael Sikkema : An interview with Juliet Cook

Small Press Intravues:
Occasional Interviews with writers working and publishing in the small press ecosystem

Interview #3: Juliet Cook has a new poetry chapbook called The Rabbits With Red Eyes available through Ethel Zine & Micro-Press, and is brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, and dark red explosions. She is drawn to poetry, abstract visual art, and other forms of expression. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications. You can find out more at www.JulietCook.weebly.com

How did you get started in writing?

I liked writing poetry even when I was a little kid.  It started off as silly cliched rhyming verse about dogs or snapping the heads off gingerbread men. Then it became over the top verse that contorted into dark fairy tales and otherwise created characters that exceeded my real life experience. Then it became a more personal poetic form of self expression that incorpoated my real life experiences and brain waves into my own kind of art.

Why poetry instead of some other form?

Because poetry is my favorite form of creative expression, whether others relate to it or not.  Even though poetry is my favorite, I also enjoy some in-depth personal comunications with others. And I also enjoy visual art, such as semi-abstract painting/collage art hybric creatures. And I also enjoy artsy music and movies.

What other form do you see your work influenced by or continuous with? Music? Magic? Science? Journalism? Gardening?

Sometimes abstract visual art. Sometimes overly personal note books.  Sometimes line breaked journal entries. Sometimes dream scenes. Sometimes mental/emotional baggage or mental hauntings.

What infinitives best sum up your writing practice? To explore, to investigate, to express, to interrogate, to perform, to reveal, to layer, to obfuscate, to connect? Please choose as many as you wish and explain.

To express rather than repress. To explore my own thoughts and feelings. To extract some of the negativity out of my system. To release parts of my own repetitive streaks. To blow up my own self-created mental balloon animals. To reveal parts of the real me.  To possibly connect my thoughts and feelings with others who might relate.

I love to explore and express myself, but the performance part makes me increasingly uncomfortable. Parts of me like to share, but not by putting on a bunch of public displays and certainly not by forcing my poetry upon others.  Parts of me strongly desire to be up-front and honest, but I also want to be open to interpretation.

What ecosystems do you see your work fitting into? That is, who are the other artists and makers and writers that your work is in relationship with?

Human bodies and other animal bodies, sea creatures, insects, dolls, ghosts.

All different kinds of other poets and artists whose work focuses in different ways on bodies,  minds, emotions,  personal experiences and permutations.

What are your current projects? What are you working on? If you’re not writing, are you busy with something else?

I'm currently compiling a new collaborative full-length poetry manuscript by j/j hastain and myself to begin submitting.  I'm always on & off working on writing poetry, communicating in other ways, small projects associated with my tiny indie press, Blood Pudding Press, reading submissions for my blog style lit mag, Thirteen Myna Birds, reading other poetry, writing new poetry, and trying to maintain my own pace and keep myself borderline sane.

As I imagine is the case with most of us recently, the Coronavirus pandemic is taking a bit of an on & off mental/emotional toll on me and somewhat interrupting my own creative process.

What stuff do you have out in the world, and how can people get their hands on it? Books, chapbooks, individual poems, essays, other interviews, songs, anything else?

I very recently had a new poetry chapbook published - The Rabbits With Red Eyes,  available through Ethel Zine & Micro-Press here - https://www.ethelzine.com/shop/the-rabbits-with-red-eyes-by-juliet-cook.

Other poetry books and chapbooks by me and by quite a few other poets can be acquired through my Blood Pudding Press shop here - https://www.etsy.com/shop/BloodPuddingPress.

I try to regularly update my website with my most recent publications and more here - https://julietcook.weebly.com/.

What would you tell people who are just starting to get involved with writing and publishing?

I don't like to tell other people what to do.  

But I will say that in my opinion, anyone who is going to freak out and/or five up on their own writing because they got 10 or 30 or 50 or 100 or more rejections from other people/other presses should probably just stop submitting their work, because it seems to me that anyone who has been working on their writing for years and regularly submitting it is going to get lots of rejections and then hopefully start receiving lots of acceptances too.

Ultimately,  I think the most important part of poetry is the writing process, what you're personally aiming for, and how you personally feel about your results.

Michael Sikkema is a poet, visual poet, and aspiring drummer. He has a book out recently from Trembling Pillow Press, called You've Got a Pretty Hellmouth, and also has chapbooks out recently from above/ground press, and Where is the River Press, titled Heron on Huron, and Welcome to the Last Earth Show, respectively. He enjoys correspondence at michael.sikkema@gmail.com. 

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