Juliet has A BFA degree in Creative Writing (with a minor in Popular Culture), but is no longer based in academe.
Juliet Cook’s Writing Process
Thank you very much to Susan Yount for inviting me to participate in this Blog Tour Interview regarding my writing process and related thoughts (and peculiar brain based entities that can be positioned into a straddling stratosphere of semi-edible, semi-grotesque poem creatures).
What I’m working on - Trying to stay on top of my own poetry writing and submitting – along with publishing and promoting poetry chapbooks through my one-woman indie press, Blood Pudding Press – along with the monthly update of my blog style online literary magazine, Thirteen Myna Birds – along with reading other poetry – along with creating poetic visuals via painting/collage art hybrids – and more…
This year, my Blood Pudding Press has published three different poetry chapbooks – “House on Fire” by Susan Yount, “Stick Up” by Paul David Adkins, and “They Talk About Death” by Alessandra Bava. You can read and see more about each of these unique collections at the Blood Pudding Press shop here - https://www.etsy.com/shop/BloodPuddingPress .
Also, a new poetry chapbook of my own, “RED DEMOLITION”, was very recently published (in August) by Shirt Pocket Press (http://shirtpocketpress.wordpress.com/catalog/) and includes fourteen poems inspired by dissolution, discord, divergence, and instability along the lines of (non)long lasting romantic relationships and ongoing questioning about the definition of love.
Also, a collaborative poetry chapbook by me and Robert Cole, “MUTANT NEURON CODEX SWARM”, which was accepted for publication over a year ago by Hyacinth Girl Press, is coming closer & closer to publication, closer to the end of this year.
I’ve been working on collaborative poems with a few other poets too, especially j/j hastain, with whom I’ve assembled about thirty poems and we are still working on more – writing new ones, revising old ones, submitting many of them, organizing some of them into chapbook format...AND, while I was in the middle of completing these blog tour answers, j/j and my collaborative chapbook manuscript, “Dive Back Down”, was just accepted by Dancing Girl Press, to be published next year!
I’ve been submitting my own second full-length poetry manuscript (on & off, with various subtractions, re-visions, and additions) for about four years now – and occasionally find myself wondering if it doesn’t fit in anywhere; if I don’t fit in anywhere ON A LARGER SCALE.
Then again, versions of the manuscript have made it as far as being a Semi-Finalist in the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize in 2012 and a Finalist for Imaginary Friend Press in 2013, so I guess it comes close to somewhere/something.
Sometimes I wonder if my poetic content is too repetitive. Other times, I wonder if its content is not thematically linked enough for most presses to consider on a full-length scale. Even though its content strikes ME as thematically linked, the poems were not all written in a short span of time, focused on one set theme - and sometimes I get the feeling that's where the primary interest lies these days – a collection of poems purposely based on one theme - rather than my kind of ongoing similar thematic content for YEARS.
Why my work is different – Because it emerges from my own brain and I’m not aiming to fit in to anyone/anywhere else in particular. I am not some easy to understand cliché. I’m a contradictory mess with semi-repetitive streaks. My brain is a mental mini-semi with multicolored darkness. I care deeply about my creative expression, but it’s not aimed in any one concrete direction or at any one group. It’s a misshapen rotating circular flow.
It does appeal to me when my poetry receives attention, since my poetic expression is truly important to me and since I do direct lots of my time, focus, mental energy and genuine passion in the realm of poetry – but when I’m working on the writing, I’m not trying to make it fit in anywhere in particular or appeal to anyone in particular. I don’t think of myself as particularly mainstream, or purposely outsider, or overly academic, or too genre-esque. I think of myself as ME.
Also, my works’ content is somewhat different than it used to be, because my brain is somewhat different than it used to be. This is partly due to stylistic changes, but also due to an actual brain disorder/disability.
At the beginning of 2010, less than 3 months after I had turned 37, I had an unexpected carotid artery dissection - which led to an aneurysm - which led to a stroke, which caused me to lose some parts of my brain.
I am technically disabled with mild aphasia, ongoing small word issues, and other uncanny side effects. I think it was my long lasting passion for unique words, reading, writing, and poetic expression that seriously upgraded my recovery process and helped my brain to neuroplasticize itself.
My reading is still considerably slower than it used to be though, and requires more concentration. I’ve always been poetry-focused in terms of my own writing but now I am even MORE poetry focused in terms of writing AND reading.
I’ve always felt like a mixed up, mixed bag, mixed feeling mini-deluge in one way or another – but those traits combined with brain loss and love loss/marriage loss/divorce exactly one year after the stroke (causing me to question real love and anything long lasting) seem to have escalated my realization that supposedly meaningful things can suddenly and unexpectedly change.
I was lucky to live through my stroke, but instead of making me feel more positive, the experience caused me to feel somewhat more negative and “what is the point”? I don’t mean that in a depressed sort of way. I am very glad I am still alive, because life speed races way too fast, as it is. But still, what is the overall point? I don’t think there is an overall broad scale point; I think there are just small but interconnected individual points (or other shapes or flows or coagulations). Individuals can either give up on encountering anything meaningful OR choose to believe in what is important to them and focus on that while they are alive. For some people, that focus is family and raising kids; for me that focus is unique personal expression and poeticism. I’ve never really related to un-passionate adults, bored adults, adults who don’t seem to have any particular focus or anything to do with their time. Time is extremely fast paced and limited and could very suddenly end. While you still have time remaining, why not choose your own point, space, shape, flow, force field or whatever you want to call it and focus on it while you still can?
I don’t want to hide myself, overly privatize myself, or overly focus on pleasing others. I want to be myself, express myself, and give myself freely to whomever/wherever I choose. My own point, space, shape, flow, force field, “spiritual state” is expression-based, hoping that some of my words will last longer than my body-based life. I’ll never have enough time to get enough done – and a lot of people won’t be aware of me in any way – and even some people who are aware of me will not really understand or relate to what I’m doing - but I will keep working on what often feels meaningful and passion inducing to me.
What I write about – I derive from odd impulses instigated by my own experiences, memories, thoughts, and feelings. I coagulate them into my own individual hybrids of realistic, abstract, emotional, extremities, and/or repetitions reshaped and rearranged. Ongoing mental disorders regarding self, relationships, breaking down, hurling, rebuilding, questioning.
An amalgamation of individual womanhood fused with horror. The dead baby birds that still live inside my head and want to be re-born, even if they’re tiny and broken.
My process – Expressing myself rather than repressing myself. I feel like I will never be anyone’s favorite thing and that hurts my feelings, but that does not mean I have any desire to be less than I am, act different than I feel, or hide the real me.
I’d rather express my qualms and flaws and uncertainty and unease instead of keeping it all inside myself, keeping myself hidden, secret, semi-fake, and feeling as if the real me barely exists. I’d rather reveal myself, even if many don’t relate to my sorts of expression. For me, extraction of negative brain waves via poetic/artistic expression is far preferable to keeping such feelings hidden. Expressing deviation or darkness can be empowering; can release space for temporary light.
Up until the last few years, I almost always started my writing process by hand, on paper, lying on my stomach on the floor. I didn’t start typing a poem in progress on the computer until it felt pretty close to being done. In recent years, since I’ve been more focused on collaborative writing with poets who aren’t physically near me, most of my writing process has been online – and frankly, I haven’t even been spending enough time on the ground with my own poetry.
Also, in recent years, it has crossed my mind quite a few times that perhaps I should abandon (or at least put on hold for a few years) my Blood Pudding Press publishing endeavors, since that takes up a significant amount of my time and energy – and that in combination with the fact that I have slower reading skills than I used to, has caused my own writing and reading to fall farther and farther behind. I have hundreds of unread books on my floors and feel like I’ll never come anywhere near to catching up unless I focus on spending substantially more time in that direction – and the only way I can do so is if I spend substantially less time in another direction.
I do think it is meaningful and important for poets to focus significantly on other poets; not just themselves - but my Blood Pudding Press has now existed for almost 8 full years – so maybe it’s time to take a break and focus more directly on rebirthing my own process again.
This is not an official announcement, because I haven’t decided the exact details or time frame yet, but I’m tentatively thinking I might keep the press alive for another year and then after 2015, put my press on hiatus for a few years, and then start a new press a few years later, with a somewhat different process associated with that new press too.
Adam Tedesco's ConverseχInverse Featuring Juliet Cook
Other than that
Things that are real are
Human body parts
Ghostly body parts floating by the ceiling fan"
from Adam Tedesco's "ConverseχInverse Featuring Juliet Cook", in which he interviewed her via verse for Drunk in a Midnight Choir
Partake of more here - http://drunkinamidnightchoir.com/2015/05/25/converse%CF%87inverse-featuring-juliet-cook/