Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Poetic Profile: Jane Cassady

Join us this Friday, August 3rd, at 7:00pm as Jane Cassady reads from her newly released collection of poems For the Comfort of Automated Phrases.

1) How would you describe your poetry?

Romantic, surreal, silly, self-conscious, prone to magical thinking. I talk about flowers a lot. Social justice works its way in. I love pop culture references and words and phrases that might soon be obsolete. Right now I'm a little fixated on the general wildness of the world and how anyone manages to build a nest, make a home. Current muses include Demetri Martin, David Lynch, and Felder Rushing, The Gestalt Gardener.

2) How does poetry fit into your everyday life?

Having recently left almost two years of AmeriCorps service in Philly schools, my life is enjoying a lovely lacuna-- poetry is my everyday life. Every morning before I do anything else, I write three pages of anything that comes to mind, then affirmations, then a list of what I'm grateful for. Right now I'm writing a poem a day for National Poetry Month, so I spend a lot of time online reading friends' daily poems.

When I'm not writing, I'm dawdling around looking at stuff in thrift stores, libraries, art galleries, or walking the Wissahickon feeling lucky to live here. I spend time preparing lessons and helping organize events. I book and promote The Fuse at InFusion,The Philadelphia Poetry Slam, alongside the wonderful and charming Sherod Smallman and the Fuze Collective.

Also, I really enjoy television.

3) What poets and authors inspire you?

First and foremost, my students and colleagues, whose work reassures me that the writing process is really kind of a reliable thing. My favorite poets are all contemporary ladies: Patricia Smith, Rachel McKibbens, Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, and Tara Betts. My first muse was Brendan Constantine, out in LA, and my favorite mentor/co-conspiritor is Daniel McGinn, also in the LA area. The poets I started out with 10 years ago in Orange County remain the standard by which I judge all poetry...

I mostly read prose, though. I love Chuck Klosterman, Douglas Coupland, Sarah Vowell, and pretty much any memoir where someone does something weird for a year. (Beth Lisick's Helping Me Help Myself, about her adventures following twelve different self-help gurus, is my favorite of these.)

I highly highly recommend What It Is by Lynda Barry and Ordinary Genius by Kim Addonizio-- both are bottomless sources of writing ideas. And for the past 10 years, I've been following Julia Cameron's advice in The Artist's Way.

4) How does the community of Philadelphia play a part in your poetry?

Last Christmas, my brother gave us a 36 spice spice rack that came with endless refills. It came with a subscription: if one of the spices runs out (usually rosemary) they just send us more. The Philadelephia art and poetry community seems that endless and varied. I love that there are so many different scenes here: Poetry Aloud and Alive, The Lyrical Playground, Harvest, of course The Fuze just to name a very few.

The variety of artists, audiences, and images gives me such a nice feeling of abundance, like I'll never run out. For example, last weekend we went to an art show dedicated, for whatever reason, to Twin Peaks. Just knowing there's people around who came up with an idea like that just sort of fills me with hope.

5) What is the last book you have read that you enjoyed? Tell our Big Blue Marble community about it.

I just finished reading The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture. The author, Nathan Rabin, is the head writer for The Onion's A.V Club section. Pop culture memoirs are my favorite thing in the universe. Each chapter is characterized by a different, movie, song, or T.V episode. Rabin talks about going from a mental hospital to a group home, to a crazy co-op in Madsion, to the Onion staff, to a cancelled movie review TV show, all the while overcoming depression (which he refers to as Vice Admiral Phineas T. Cummerbund) and using A LOT of Simpsons references. Heaven.

Jane Cassady is the booking maven for the Philadelphia Poetry Slam. She has appeared in The November 3rd Club, The Comstock Review, Valley of the Contemporary Poets, and other journals. She has performed at such venues as LouderArts in New York City, Valley Contemporary Poets in Los Angeles, and The Encyclopedia Show in Chicago. She has taught poetry to all ages from pre-K to adult, and believes in coaxing out everyone's unique poet voice.

1 comment:

Rachel McKibbens said...

Jane speaks & writes magically because that's what magical people do.