Writing is my true passion. I am grateful to all the editors who have published my work and who have nominated me for Pushcart Prizes, The Million Writers Award and a Sundress Best of the Net award.You could find my work online and in journals such as the A Gathering of the Tribes, Cafe Review, Cimarron Review, Cincinnati Review, Columbia Journal, Evergreen Review, Gargoyle Magazine, Live Mag!, Long-Islander, Pank, Passages North, Portland Review, Seattle Review, Verse Daily and so on.My first novel called ÜberChef USA (Spork Press) is available in bookstores worldwide and on Amazon everywhere. I have written one short story collection called Maze and a poetry collection titled More Than Moon, which was a National Poetry Series finalist, due out 2020 from Is a Rose Press.At the moment, I am working on my second novel and a second poetry collection.Currently, I live in New York City where I am active in poetry and prose readings in Brooklyn and on the lower east side of Manhattan. I have featured at such venues as Caffe Vivaldi, KGB Bar, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Parkside Lounge, Pete’s Candy Store and Three of Cups Lounge -( Poet Jennifer Juneau , WordPress.com)
Mbizo CHIRASHA :Your latest book title is extraordinary , What message is the title
to the readers , scholars , readers and poets?
Jennifer Juneau: The title More Than Moon has many meanings. First off, the title came from a line in my favorite John Donne poem, “A Valediction of Weeping,” the beautiful line and image of a powerful moon resonated with me. In essence this stanza could even sum of my book:
O more than moon,
Draw not up seas to drown me in thy sphere,
Weep me not dead, in thine arms, but forbear
To teach the sea what it may do too soon;
The moon figure is the core of the poems, their guiding force, and represents various circumstances and people in my life. It could be a friend, lover, nemesis. The speaker, unaware at times, is propelled or lost, under the moon’s gnawing presence. It’s one of those things that all poets grapple with: subject matter that won’t let you rest. Giving you the urge to just write. And many times I had written in the middle of the night in the presence of a great big moon. But it’s more than that, as the title and poems suggest.
Mbizo Chirasha: What is your experience so far after the release of your latest
Jennifer Juneau: I’ve gotten some pretty good feedback on the book, writers and publishers wanting to write reviews. Readers seem to have enjoyed it, but interestingly enough, mostly the critique was on the language rather than the subject matter and this had my heart soaring. The poems are very language centered, pithily articulated. I had a blast writing it. I love playing with words and more often than not, readers have noticed puns that I was not even conscious of using. The reviews I am pleased with. It doesn’t matter what people say about the book, as long as it had left an impact on them one way or another. After writing More Than Moon and it’s ultimate release, I had the opportunity to revisit the poems. The feeling left me with a common fear most writers have, notably W.H. Auden: Will I ever write like this again? I believe the answer is Yes, but I also believe a writer should have fun with writing and I plan to.
Mbizo CHIRASHA: What is your publisher , author relationship with IROSE your publisher?
Jennifer Juneau: Michael Dickel is a wonderful editor and friend. He is very professional and takes pride in publishing and has a vast attention to detail. Working with him was easy. There was mutual respect, and I believe that is important. You hear so much about difficult writers, or difficult publishers, and that is fine, I’ve been there, because at the end of the day it is all about getting the work done and having the book be in the finest, most suitable condition it could be. With Michael, I’ve lucked out. He was patient, as there were a lot of formatting issues. He never asked me to change content, in fact, it was all up to me. I’ve pulled a couple of poems from the manuscript and added a few and this freedom made the publication journey a positive experience.
Mbizo CHIRASHA: What inspired you to become a writer or a Poet to be precise?
Jennifer Juneau: I’m of the “poets/artists are born not made” school of thought and I stand by that. In college, it never crossed my mind to major in English or study literature or writing. I have a degree in psychology and studied linguistics and literary theory and criticism at a graduate level. I do not believe passion can be taught, or that the ability to channel passion into a particular art can be guided. You feel your emotions, your perception of the world around you and you know it’s right. You create art because you need to, whether that passion rolls out in oils on a canvas, or from your finger tips to piano keys, whichever vehicle finds you and fuels you. That is what it is about for me: The art finds you, you don’t search for it.
Mbizo CHIRASHA :Have you successfully built your writing community , your fan base
or a poetry community since your entry into poetry?
Jennifer Juneau: The area of support within the poetry community has been extraordinary, and more than I could have ever dreamed of. When I first began seriously writing I lived abroad in Zurich, Switzerland. There was no social networking back then, nor was there a poetry community. All my poetry submissions were mailed by snail mail. When Facebook materialized, I built my community online from overseas. It was a long, slow process, but when I moved back to New York City in 2016, I felt I had a foundation to build on. On a whim, I walked into a poetry reading in downtown Brooklyn, met many writers I had only known online, was asked to feature at a venue in Manhattan, where I continued to meet other writers, and it all came together for me seemingly overnight. I am grateful for this opportunity every day of my life.
Mbizo CHIRASHA: What is your literary thrust , your subject matter , I mean your
Jennifer Juneau: Oh no. I do not go there. Nothing is planned. In my work I go wherever my life and current emotions take me. With writing, I live in the moment, and my writing reflects this. What inspires me or exasperates me today, can disappear tomorrow, so I catch it, write it, and it comes out super raw and real. If I say, “Oh, I’ll write about x, y and z” — that won’t work. It will come out superficial. I do not believe in manipulating emotions, or designing them to appear greater or worse than they are.
Mbizo CHIRASHA: Who is your adored poet ?
Jennifer Juneau: Kim Addonizo.
Mbizo CHIRASHA: How many books of poetry you have read and why?
Jennifer Juneau: That is an impossible question to answer, and I’m quite amused by this question. I’ve developed an infinite love for reading poetry books since I was four years old (if Dr. Seuss books count as poetry, and I’m sure that they do!) I am proud of my collection of books, from Old English poetry to the present poets. If I had to guess…I’d say a million, which is obviously hyperbole, but in all seriousness, I have read everyone famous and most poets who are not, I think, and poets from all over the world.
Mbizo CHIRASHA: Do you think literary arts activism or poetivism brings change
/positive change in our communities , if so why do you think so?
Jennifer Juneau: I believe any kind of activism works—but more for the activist than for any community in the beginning stages. Activism for any cause is important, as it is another form of a release of passion and an appeal for change, or to lift the veil of censorship. As we’ve seen for decades activism works— eventually. But it isn’t the only cause for change. The timing has to be right.
Mbizo CHIRASHA :Whats your parting shot to upcoming poets and to established poets?
Jennifer Juneau: To be confident and as uninhibited as you can when you write. Find your voice. Read, read, read, everything you can get your hands on. This is the magic formula.
*with Poet , Editor and Publisher Michael Dickel*
…has yet to be told in its current unfolding.
But here is a bit about our name, “is a rose press.” It comes from Gertrude Stein. Here is what Phrase Finder (UK) reports about it:
A rose is a rose is a rose…
The line is from Gertrude Stein’s poem Sacred Emily, written in 1913 and published in 1922, in Geography and Plays. The verbatim line is actually, ‘Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose’:
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
Pages ages page ages page ages.
When asked what she meant by the line, Stein said that in the time of Homer, or of Chaucer, “the poet could use the name of the thing and the thing was really there.” As memory took it over, the thing lost its identity, and she was trying to recover that—”I think in that line the rose is red for the first time in English poetry for a hundred years.”
Stein was certainly fond of the line and used variants of it in several of her works:
– Do we suppose that all she knows is that a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. (Operas and Plays)
– … she would carve on the tree Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose until it went all the way around. (The World is Round)
– A rose tree may be a rose tree may be a rosy rose tree if watered. (Alphabets and Birthdays)
– Indeed a rose is a rose makes a pretty plate. (Stanzas in Meditation)
The University of Pennsylvania Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing provides these additional citations of the phrase:
When I said.
A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.
And then later made that into a ring I made poetry and what did I do I caressed completely caressed and addressed a noun.
“Poetry and Grammar,” Lectures in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985), p. 231.
Civilization begins with a rose. A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. It continues with blooming and it fastens clearly upon excellent examples. (As Fine as Melanctha)
Lifting belly can please me because it is an occupation I enjoy.
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.
In print on top. (Bee Time Vine)
Now listen! I’m no fool. I know that in daily life we dont go around saying is a is a is a Yes, I’m no fool; but I think that in that line the rose is red for the first time in English poetry for a hundred years. (Four in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1947).
Writing is my true passion. I grew up in a household with parents who were in the arts, and there was a vast library in my home which, at the age of four, I became smitten with. My mother taught me how to read at age 3, and had signed me up to four memberships to kids’ book clubs, where I received books in the mail monthly. At age six, I was picking books off the shelves, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poems and Edgar Allan Poe’s. To me, at that young age, the poems seemed to double as mini stories and I attempted to make sense of these little tales. In my free time up until I started publishing my own poems, I’d write.
I am grateful to all the editors who have published my work, and who have nominated me for Pushcart Prizes, The Million Writers Award and a Sundress Best of the Net award.
My work is published in scores of magazines, to name some, A Gathering of the Tribes, Cafe Review, Cimarron Review, Cincinnati Review, Columbia Journal, Evergreen Review, Gargoyle Magazine, Live Mag!, Long-Islander, Pank, Passages North, Portland Review, Seattle Review, Verse Daily and so on.
My first novel called ÜberChef USA (Spork Press) is available in bookstores worldwide and on Amazon everywhere. My poetry collection, More Than Moon, was a National Poetry Series finalist, and is published by Is a Rose Press. Currently, I live in New York City where I have featured at such venues as KGB Bar, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, New York Poetry Festival, New York Public Library, Parkside Lounge, Pete’s Candy Store and Three of Cups Lounge.
Mbizo CHIRASHA( Time of the Poet Republic Curator) Author of a Letter to the President. co-Authored Whispering Woes of Ganges and Zambezi. Co-Edited Street Voices Poetry Collection (Germany Africa Poetry Anthology). Co- Editor of the Corpses of Unity Anthology. Associate Editor at Diasporia(n) online. Chief Editor at Time of the Poet Republic. Founding Editor at WomaWords Literary Press. Publisher at Brave Voices Poetry journal. Curator at Africa Writers Caravan. UNESCO-RILA Affiliate Artist at University of Glasgow. 2020 Poet in Residence Fictional Café. 2019 African Fellow, IHRAF.ORG. Project Curator and Co-Editor of the Second Name of Earth is Peace (Poetry Voices Against WAR Anthology). Contributing Essayist to Monk Arts and Soul Magazine. Poetry and writtings appear in FemAsia Magazine ,Wrath -Bearing Tree, Inksweat andtears journal , One Ghana One Magazine, Ofi Press, World Poetry Almanac, Demer Press , Atunis Galaxy poetry online , IHRAF Publishes , The Poet a Day , Bezine.Com , Sentinel UK, Oxford School of Poetry Pamphlet , Africa Crayons, PulpitMagazine,Poetry Pacific, Zimbolicious , Best New Poets ,Poetry Bulawayo , Gramnet webjournal, Diogen Plus , Poeisis.si , Festival de Poesia Medellin and elsewhere .