“Let me start with a little story: When I was nine years old, I decided I’d become a writer. I was living in a village in Germany, and I sat down most days after school to write what my kids now consider a boring story. Thankfully, I’ve had many people in my life who told me and still tell me to keep writing. Life had me busy with other things, so I didn’t always listen. Fast forward a few decades, and I’ve moved half-way around the world to beautiful New England where I live, love, write, and get excited like a 9-year-old girl when one of my poems finds a home.”
What role does poetry play in your life?
For many years, I’ve been writing just for myself. I have to write, there is just no way around it. Today, when my poems find a home, I pack their bags, kiss them gently on the forehead, tell them to be good and send them off into the world. I never really know if I’ll hear from them again but that’s not the point. They are there because of me. Other people can see something in them that maybe I didn’t. And that’s the whole beauty of it. Rather than having my poems spend their lives in my desk’s top drawer (ok, let’s be real: saved on my hard drive and in the cloud), I want them to go out there, as if they were my kids.
Can you mention some of your favorite books or authors?
This is hard, how much time have you got?! I find something to love in most things that I read, even in the poorly translated instruction manual of my Bluetooth speaker. While instruction manuals could disappoint in terms of literary quality, Ada Limón, Danusha Laméris, Ted Kooser, Billy Collins, or Hermann Hesse have never let me down. I have subscriptions to a few poetry magazines, and the one I most enjoy is Rattle. Their chapbooks are gems. I also love picking up chapbooks or poetry anthologies in random book shops when I travel.
Do you have any personal poetry moments you’d like to share?
When I hear poetry moments, I have to think of my birthday last year when my daughter gave me her collection of “Poetry for Moms” that she had been working on in secret. Or of the most memorable phone call I received after a job interview, in which my utterly amazing now-colleague delivered the news in poem format. For me, poetry is what lives, what we experience, what resonates. Coming to what resonates, I will share two lines from Mary Oliver’s “When Death Comes” that I strive to live by:
“When it’s over, I want to say all my lifeMary Oliver, “When Death Comes”
I was a bride married to amazement.”
How to get in touch with Jessica: Through her website https://jessica-martinez-writes.webnode.page/