The Boston Book Festival is a free, day-long schedule of events, readings, workshops, and other bookish happenings on Saturday, October 15, 2011, at Copley Square in Boston. A number of past MCC fellows/finalists are among the presenters, including Jessica Bozek (Poetry Finalist ’10), who joins poets Stephen Burt and Sandra Beasley for the reading/discussion Poetry: Personae, Self-Portrait As….
Here, we super-briefly interview Jessica, a terrific poet and founder/host of the Small Animal Project Reading Series.
What’s the worst day job you’ve ever had?
I’m not sure if this is the worst, but it’s the weirdest. I moved to Barcelona for a year and taught English in my mid-20s. Because I couldn’t work legally, I ended up with a few regular private students who had seen my poster in a bookstore. Two of these students were huge devotees of American self-help. They each had distinct goals that we worked towards. One wanted to be able to give motivational speeches in English, so he read transcripts of self-help texts while I corrected his pronunciation and intonation. He also wanted to co-create an ESL curriculum for masochists, but I politely declined. The other was the Spanish delegate to a Tony Robbins conference in England. He just wanted to be able to have a conversation with Robbins should their paths happen to cross, so we enacted hypothetical situations. Sometimes I was Tony Robbins, sometimes I was Juan Garcia.
Computer, longhand, or typewriter?
All three. My poems start in a notebook, but only about 10% of that ends up on the computer, where I tinker endlessly. The typewriter is mostly for fun – love letters, gift tags.
Do you secretly dream of being a) a pop icon, b) an algebra teacher, and/or c) a crime-solver/writer a la Jessica Fletcher?
Crime-writer for sure. When I was younger, I wanted to be a PI. But now I’d settle for writer. Crime fiction is my word-candy. I love the late 60s/early 70s Martin Beck series by Swedish husband-and-wife team Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall (a poet!), Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie books, and Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander series. But Mankell gives me nightmares. The villains are such villains – they have no fear, and someone without fear scares me the most.
The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
“Whenever there’s words on the walls, your face gets sucked into them.” My husband said this to me while we were at Mass MoCA – I can’t not read all the text beside a painting or drawing at a museum, even at the expense of not properly seeing the artwork itself.
Jessica will read her poetry and explore the persona poem as a form of self-portraiture in Poetry: Personae, Self-Portrait As… at 10:30 AM, Boston Public Library Washington Room, Saturday, October 15, 2011.
Jessica Bozek is the author of The Bodyfeel Lexicon (Switchback Books, 2009) and several chapbooks, including Squint into the Sun (Dancing Girl Press, 2010). Recent poems appear in 751, Action, Yes, Artifice, Black Warrior Review, Guernica, horse less review, and Sixth Finch. Jessica teaches writing at Boston University and runs Small Animal Project, a reading series in Cambridge, MA.