QUIZ&quilL SINGLE-AUTHOR CHAPBOOK 2012
Tulips GUTTER, BLUE LIPS GARDEN IN THE
JORDY LAWRENCE STEWART
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TULIPS IN THE GUTTER, BLUE LIPS IN THE GARDEN
A COLLECTION OF POETRY BY JORDY LAWRENCE STEWART
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TABLE OF CONTENTS Short North Hallelujah West Park Street I Shake Myself to Sleep Sometimes Edisto Raging Bull If I Don’t Make It to Sleep Tonight There’s a Coupe Parked on the Pine Trees Here’s Looking at You, Kid Frame It and Hang It in the Basement A Blue Jean Wax Poetic Last Lines of the Year So I Am a Ghost Tonight If You’re Gonna Break It, Break It Clean I’d Write You a Letter, But I’m No Letter Writer Ashes, Ashes About the Author
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Iâ€™d like to thank my mother and father for their hard work and faith in my passion. Iâ€™d also like to thank my sister for picking me up many, many times and for my good friends who kept me from falling too far these words, thank you for your patience and spirit, as I must apologize for the breaking of mine.
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SHORT NORTH 9/10/11
jazz survives on the splashes of a beat up cymbal swinging onto an ocean wave of cool. a ukulele boy singing out in his bare feet, vocalizing his bare soul. the night is ripe – right as rain. black, steel arches dressed up in white lights painting stars a turn of the hips and you’ve got cloud nine echoing from a p.a. blaring beautiful lungs at high E. you want a cigarette and you don’t even smoke but the night is smoking. step on out and hear the chatter of a hundred bars
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through my light frames i look through tall windows onto hung artwork without frames, just as free as the hands that painted them. in the steaming machinery and maybe one or two shared hearts, a shop for every country and an open doorway to get you there. could life be so easy? the world so small? i snap back to my senses snapping the sidewalk arrives to the impressionists and their statements, ladders and brushes, creativity’s sweat and time on a twenty foot stretch of wall and now i’ve got a legion of beggars working the corner shake their cups in the rhythm of the beating street: sadness, confusion, sincerity – can you dig it? i’d say endlessly.
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HALLELUJAH WEST PARK STREET “take your best steps out the door and hold your breath – don’t let up. dirt cheap smile and count every lucky star you see.” while heaven is roaring behind heaven’s crystal ball? and hitchcock must’ve saved his greatest pictures for me! they reel out in technicolor behind the glorious screen of my batting green eyes. i watch in awe and horror attempting perfect sleep. while old man night adjusts his creaking bones on the red lipstick shirts and pulsing sheets of grandfather death’s synthetic earth.
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Oh! my hands grow colder in the itching winters of of my scratching life. and the ivy grows clear out of view and the skyscrapers cry out for attention on the black nights of all my blacked out friends. lock us up while you’ve still got your golden key and your golden rule! we roll over national mediocrity for every good reason to blind into the coughing caskets of all your starving wonders. wonders. wonders. i no longer wonder. —sick from it. blue-lipped and weeping over the daisies that wait to be sung to in the emerald gardens of swinging and sliding walking ghosts. or should we play tag with needle splendors and empty bottle dreamers of the broken alleys of every great metropolis? to love and be loved! cannot nirvana hold true? will all the reincarnated their breath too! i sink my teeth into Shakespeare’s opiate players
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i pluck and tear at every string and every other lifeless thing. to love and be loved.
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I SHAKE MYSELF TO SLEEP SOMETIMES catch Hell, catch misery, they go unheard in big ways: in the dampness of cardboard hotels and in the loose change of your pockets â€“ the lint too! the shrieks of air that get caught in the cherrywood of your dining liter engine sitting at the lake with a lot of your trust and the borrowed tunnels of your heart, the hour hands of a clock and the unconfessed ways to unmeasured happiness.
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your doorstep in black ties, in signatures you were counting on, in the thumbs down resting around a meeting table with fresh fruit wasted in the lobby. it’s what you dream about Sunday night in bed and think about all morning and afternoon on Monday. it is a Russian winter, it is every winter. it is a tornado without an eye. it’s black and blue, black and white too. it’s the laws that drown us all to near death and spill out of the marble pillars of Democracy. its teeth are in our silences and its knife is in our backs. it dances blindly down your street with all the promises your father made you, broken and unbroken but breaks them either way. it is something in the ground to be loved and everything else above ground to be hated. helplessness in one toothbrush behind your midnight mirror and you standing restless at the sink.
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it was a white coast. the shore clumped like grandma’s holiday mashed potatoes – steam and all – with the echoing footsteps of early morning crabwalks and barefooted vacationers, while bronze-bellied townies watched from bungalow porches made of sand, wide awake on red wine and Carolina could be home. carolina felt like home as i might not have felt any sort of home before. its high breeze wind smelled like quiet pieces of earth and the kind of vanished solitude that pours from bells on the peaks of red clay mountains in foreign footsteps that i have never taken before. this kind of solitude accompanies prayer.
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the black backs of bottlenose chatter going mad as the yellow sun rose over the gray infant isles of humidity sang their facetious lullabies till noon with white water the rascal lizards dashed crookedly through the prickly weeds in the backyard almost like only not as bright but twice as frightening. scooped up in the happy mesh of an old leftover briny bits from my leisure legs, as the chimes wisped up on the porch iâ€™m on my way to sleep in the hands of a sleepy south.
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RAGING BULL it was that kind of singular rain, each drop falling on its own heavy accord. single dripping shots into the soggy grass and damp sidewalks with hello splats. i wasnâ€™t ready to head back into that part of the city so soon but i didnâ€™t know it until i got there. looks like artwork, some kind of perpetuated masterpiece that you think will head down that street and around that block and make its way back onto the middle but it never does.
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the grilled beef over the cigarettes of tightrope undergrads, the beacon of bars stretching their longing arms out into the short north and up into the arena district. looking downtown and still seeing “united” still hanging forty stories high. i shake my head to get all the steam out, then it climbed up into a browning maple tree and out into the night, dodging the kamikaze raindrops. i hope that it got away safe and sound. the creeps, walking under it in the dark is the worst – the walkway – like a long thin spinal cord caging you in between a million mirrors who for any kind of view for jabbing entertainment. we make it to our seats, to the screen, raging bull. i needed to see me some method acting. there hasn’t been much method in my life lately, only a whole lot of unanswered madness. there’s deniro with his middle weight abs, with his laughing, the crying, the dozen mother fuckers! i needed to see me some method acting. then i thought of my father and i imagined him remembering the bounce of the ring, the air in his everlast gloves, the ring of the bell and i wonder if he remembers those an orchestra glorifying his greatness. then i think that he’s been through worse times than me, he’s had a nose busted up, a black eye or two and i’ve only felt that way sometimes.
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the rain still falling from the chase of cobbled up old town neighborhoods on the way home â€“ the reds, greens and blazing glow of yellow through a fogged up backseat window, i crack my knuckles in the vented lukewarm air and stretch out in the leather seat and smile. . i am my fatherâ€™s son.
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IF I DON’T MAKE IT TO SLEEP TONIGHT
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if i don’t make it to sleep tonight, then perhaps i’ll make it through the day. maybe the sun’ll never rise because i’d forgotten that it set. if i don’t make it to sleep tonight, then I’m contemplating the artwork of your gestures in between those surprise smiles of yours. if i don’t make it to sleep tonight, don’t bury me, let my heart have its way. if i don’t make it to sleep tonight, it’s because your ghost kept me company, if i don’t make it to sleep tonight, i’m digging Neruda in his striped shirts, licking up the night with him like brothers of the bottle. if i don’t make it to sleep tonight, i’ll be at the reservoir, you’ve never been but i’m there imagining your hair and hips in the sand. if i don’t make it to sleep tonight, than ever collecting enough of myself to live it through. if i don’t make it to sleep tonight, i’m in countless yards and baptist streets trying to gather the countless pieces of my mind. if i don’t make it to sleep tonight, i’m stretching into the moments of heaven if i don’t make it to sleep tonight, i’m being my hero being your hero and heroes never have time to catch up, now do they?
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THERE’S A COUPE PARKED ON THE PINE TREES
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there’s a lot of gravel where my house used to be. there used to be long summers there and children’s laughter. there used to be my laughter but now I imagine those joys to be ghosts. carpet, that’s where my old dog would roll and chase her tail when she was still young - when I was still young. house on church street, it had become home and me and my sister had made friends with the neighbor boys, we’d swing baseball bats and kick soccer balls in between our backyards – what the Hell were property lines—what the Hell were fences. we’d pick mr. taylor’s tulips from his prize winning garden. he’d yell as we plucked out the petals and made wishes. there’s a lot of gravel where that yellow house used to be, cars park over the pebbled graveyard of my childhood. they don’t realize that we swam in a little pool where they park their toyota. they don’t realize that they’re backing over my mother’s garden or that the blue chevrolet is resting on the tomb of my playthings that were left in the basement through. there are several cars parked where only a few used to be, one was my water bottles and bright trash where we’d look at the stars while my father would man the grill and my mother tickled our chubby bellies in sheba would chase and gobble up the white moths. there’s a lot of gravel laying over my home, the place i made mistakes and the only consequences were a smack on the bottom and a week inside with the dog – that lovely mutt – the place where i never counted my blessings because that was all i knew.
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HEREâ€™S LOOKING AT YOU, KID sat spitefully in the hollow of my mind today, on lawn furniture with your sweet lemonade. you looked proud over the mossy grave of my dunce-capped love and misconceptions. a photo brought me there, in color and captions. it could have taken a few drinks or a hit of something. i decided not to give you your needless revenge today. silence and then a squared, sheet, piece of sadness. i looked at your sloppy kitchen with the stained, salmon dish towel and your happy dog Da Vinci peeping his head out the back door, perhaps to go take a whiz or chase his favorite squirrel. the sink full of dishes, the walls full of those that would suggest some kind of artistry but really
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when my best friend went quietly and without me and you held me there in the dusty musk of tile. you held me because i needed to be held, with your soft pale skin, marked rhythmically with those shy freckles, one after another chasing each other to your small wrists and those hipster rings and glitter polishes. you kissed my forehead with those hipster lips, that haunt me in the cinemas and out in the markets picking fruit and clothes, “i bet she’d like that shirt … i hate it.” haunted with little things in the rain, blades of grass on my sneakers and certain chips in sidewalks and backstreet bridges. you keep me company in my nightmares or at least some idea of you, maybe the truth, mangled and dying over my fridge near midnight, lowering down those thin arms to be embraced but driving me mad with the lifelessness of those glazed eyes through the raunchy strands of red hair, trying to cough out your apologies, but death took you and so death may take me too, in front of a screen. in front of a keyboard and a hallucinated sense of happiness. oh! how we do regret those great times, those best times. we miss them and give their ripeness our condolences. i am no Humphrey Bogart and you are no Ingrid Bergman but if we stood on a runway with the plane engines humming only in the hopes that it would crash into the weathered sea.
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FRAME IT AND HANG IT IN THE BASEMENT
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you can scream Bad Brains out over an empty highway you can give every ounce to another on a whim and never think once or twice about it you can run and be as meaningful as a printer if you have to hum your regrets into hollowed out drums of heart tossing left to right so often and so fast that it you can die and be Bill Shakespeare your whole life hook each clever line to each its own in near perfection smoking out your mind through the decades of pleasure and ending it all a most famous ghost you can cry like a baby into pillows if you need to being careful to place the needle on the third groove of a record lighting candles that will burn out after you sleep with your drink
you can live like a thunderstorm in a snow cloud have your cake and eat it too with birds kings and oil men kill a man in public and have the wad to payout the noble judges home sleep in the street and have your trust fund in stitches dead in ditches youâ€™ll have those winning days.
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A BLUE JEAN WAX POETIC today was laundry day. my clothes were past due and so i watched those dryers spin after the washers washed. today was also windy. i saw you in that wind. and in each piece of winter clothing.
upon my back and shoulders under the maple trees as they yellowed out and hollowed in past the hometown shops, the signs of mom and pop places under those salty stars twinkling shyly and forever away from those village lights, lives and laughter. â€œHow are you?â€?
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there’s that motley striped sweater with the latte stain near the red we’ve read before, sitting in the fashion we’ve sat in before as i sweated soully in my sweater in the anticipation of fantastic day – time dreams of the poetry of your eyes as they read those lines and the couplets in the bright skin of your hands as you turned each sharp page like a wave. how are you? and in my brown hoodie too. in your car on the way to pick up paint as i smiled in the passenger seat while bad rock music played and the snow fell early that October while hurrying hunks of metal moved carelessly down each street. i wanted to say something but the air that rushed past your window sealed silhouette. but i still heard every word. and as i fold then put away, you laugh in the closing of a drawer.
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LAST LINES OF THE YEAR my breath in front of me dying into the kissing wind, thawing somewhere behind me. with my mouth numb and hands awfully alone for such cold. the cars sit in frosted over oil in a morning coat of frost themselves. the parking lotâ€™s all but cleared out. the machines rest in deathly solitude and rise up from the dark of asphalt like tombstones in an evening park.
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skinny street lamps wilt over them and shine the quiet buzz of their moonlight onto their arctic peel and it bounces back like all the troubles that come with a brand new diamond ring. they say this is the witching hour. they might be right. i feel the shade of incantation. if this is the human condition then i am in no condition to be human today, so i might lose my head somewhere along the way. i hope the chill keeps me in mind as i remain outlined in the icy dark of yours, trapped beneath the damned rocks and storms theyâ€™ve all left of you before i had arrived. but iâ€™m in there searching for that lost combustion of your wonderful soul and the strong vessels of your beautiful heart. as the Ohio tundra is on its way, i can feel the angry teeth of January slowly sinking in, the northern breeze its scout. the wet snow that falls heavy melts almost with an apology as soon as it hits cemented ground. but never make a single sound. and my feet keep their pace the morning birds are asleep, the buildings are all built of sorrow, the ocean is a thousand miles away and the sun is even further than that but i wait for her, with forever painted onto the speckled lawns of limbo, as my desperation reaches deaf ears and the prayers never break the boundless space of every perfect promise ever spoken. so let the elegant voices sing until they crudely choke.
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and this is when hope serves me best, when the lights are out in every house on every eerie block of village street, when cigarettes tend to smoke themselves in the pretty mouths of falling down girls and fermented deviled boys, and i am standing at my dirty window in my dirty sheets shivering at the potential successes of me buried in the solid ground of a cynical kind of night and the blinds let in that hissing light, when i hear my own heart beating under but i listen patiently â€“ helpless to retrieve it, so i just hum to its loud melody instead. the bare tree limbs shake and their shadows dance like spider legs across a thing of beauty is a joy forever. even out here in this vicious weather? itâ€™s been winter for some time.
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SO I AM A GHOST TONIGHT so i am a ghost tonight, but i am a clever ghost. quiet as the granite is in grass, silent in between the walls of blank pages and a way to the scenic night alive. i have tried. and as i sink to death in the boiling airs of desperation and all time lows of life, so i am a ghost tonight, but i am a clever ghost. or am i simply foolish? chasing an uncatchable song that plays on all of the burnt out record players of the world, in those apartments made of music with my ambition running dry,
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i have tried. sat in the darkest corner of the loneliest ring on earth, black and blue from the punches that came from so far away that they were named constellations and i never saw them coming. i stood on the tallest building never built and looked down and all i saw were the empty years ahead of me and those carelessly thoughtless ones behind. those stars and music will remind, i have tried. unshaven souls talk of the holiest art in the dust of suburban sleep while you dream painted up somewhere in the mist of endless holiday. they play trumpets in the streets, the pall bearers march to the lullaby beat. loaded questions in little toy guns that scare the ever-living piss outta the multitudes that hang like dolled up timing mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers workday clocks and bedside alarms my lost nickels and all my dimes. i have tried. that i cannot give you up, maybe if i change myself it will be enough. but if iâ€™m not somewhere in your heart, if iâ€™m not a single thought in your head. then i am dead.
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so i am a ghost tonight, but i am a clever ghost. and though i have failed. and though i have died. i have tried.
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IF YOU’RE GONNA BREAK IT, BREAK IT CLEAN
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i am a boy amongst machines, in the Hercules’ wind of empty space. tired men mow their July yards, but mow and smile to save some face. a boy with a beard. Oh boy! a beer. there are babies playing in the sand, they play, dropping each grain piece by piece. time is a plaything that they do not understand. they do not hear the old man’s speech. he says, starting every line, and every word thereafter is dealt with borrowed time. time remembered, not time forgot. time known by every ticking clock. i am a boy, who walks midnight, brick work streets, with a cool limp in his pace and a bohemian lover in his dreams. i am a boy, i do not look for war but it’s got my country so inspired. i am a boy who dreams of lobotomy, i Google you, Lacuna, why aren’t you there? i am there, Lacuna, with trash bags of tormenting things. i am there, Lacuna, with warm tears for Valentine’s day. i am there, Lacuna, putting my mind on your soaking pillow, give me a pill! i am there, Lacuna … where are you? another movie prop? don’t let me down today. i’m mother earth’s dried up crop, won’t you let me blow away?
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i am done with today. and i was done with yesterday. i do not eat bread or sugar, my jeans aren’t tight but loose i starve myself on spite and vigor, i pull myself down from my noose. but i am a boy growing tired, who never truly falls asleep. yes, i am standing but never on my own two feet. on hope, on hope i’d like to scream but no one else knows what i’d mean. i am a boy in the lion’s pit, the people point and sing. no one really gives a shit about a goddamn thing. entertained, entertained i entertain the idea of life behind the roses and ave maria. i am a boy on a wire, a soul stretched through the lines with an important message, because life waits for no one, not senators or kings, grab it on the run, on one of these machines. i am a boy in the funhouse, all over the mirrored walls, not looking for myself. i’m not myself at all. i see hazel everything, in the falling autumn, i can only see the spring. my silence sings!
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everything’s a copy of a copy of a copy i watch them reproduce, i am a boy already in his grave, sick of scenarios, wondering how i should behave. but in the rainy dawn, while i lean in to shave, i think about heaven, so i stay alive … afraid. hell can keep on waiting, at least just for today.
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it is the sleepless sun that sets beneath the gripping quicksand wake. it is a colossal whimper that rests with the salt of salty seas but never really goes away. it is a terminal wound with no means of healing. though, i do my best every chance i get. i thank my confessing, singing brother but nothing is as strange as this desire. a wanting, to have one foot in the water and the other out i shout! winter is already here. i taste it in this tin can beer. i smell it in the ugly smoke amongst the leaves as i fumble through my pockets and juggle for my keys. it is every barking dog on earth in every swaying tree. it is the song of silent men, with gaping cuts that burn but never really bleed. the gold melting in the streets. it is a man named Prufrock with his echoing retreats. it is the cracking of knuckles while i type away these words. none of which i ever count, to count on them would be absurd. it is and more. it is a monster of a tidal chore. devouring fathoms lost in you, sitting at my desk now, down and out and blue.
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ASHES, ASHES what happens to the packing leaves that rest under january snow? and when theyâ€™re gone, could i go?
made of giggling, snot-nosed grace, where we buried things of wonder, in the graveyards built by ants with my plastic shovels my batman underpants. the streetlamps cast the matte paint against the haunted house of ivy siege while iâ€™m staring in your shadow wondering who else i could be.
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but what happens to the playthings at rest in mother’s shed? and if they come alive, could i be dead? this bloody ping pong tearing through my head. i should set sail my words in voyage bottles stretch my soul and go to bed. oh, not so much alive, as wishing to be dead. where is my rock collection i toted with me in the yard, picking at the daisies while my father washed his car? where are my worry-free days, my good luck and my charm? why is all of my attention in the cello autumn rain that hits the leaf-stained sidewalks whispering your name. not you. not me? your perfected poison in my head. oh, not so much alive, as wishing to be dead. i want to bust my knees in the gravel of these college streets, how about bubblegum and tag instead of loneliness and beer in the echoing halls of preschools full of teachers ghosts and dopy fears. ring around the rosie, pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down but it’s only me in the wide awake a.m. hating who i am, forgeting where i’ve been. the night and your voice in its sounds. where do the ashes blow? and when they’re gone, could i go?
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JORDY LAWRENCE STEWART
How long have you been writing poetry?
I started writing poetry when I was thirteen or fourteen. It was ter-
What is your inspiration when working with style and content? I read a lot of poetry, so it’s hard to peg any one person. I enjoy the Beats and their style and sense of language. The kind of madness for form they had – that recklessness and rambling – it really changed how I looked at poetry. Diversity is the key. I can be reading with Shake-
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What is the story behind your title, Tulips in the Gutter, Blue Lips in the Garden?
I’ve been in the position in my life where I had to make the most out of a bad time or sink down with it, and I was there doing that with some of the best people I know. We were all kind of tulips – out blooming in places we shouldn’t have been blooming, all wild-like in the bear rain and snow. The blue lips part is just another spin on that idea I guess. To be blue-lipped, tired, beaten, but not quite defeated and in a beautiful spot all at the same time. I think there’s something to be said for those days and people. We were all just kids out there.
Which poem is your favorite from the collection and why?
I don’t think I could pick a favorite. Some of them were easier to write than others, but that doesn’t make one any better than the other. They all have a place for me.
If you could give yourself advice as a beginning writer what would it be? If you don’t feel like you have to write, then don’t write. Many
themselves writing when they wish they could be out doing other things. The writer is a slave to his or her words and perceptions. There’s usually no want at all – only the need. I tell myself to put the “what I want” of my writing to the side. It only gets in the way.
What writers do you enjoy, even if they do not directly influence your style?
J.D. Salinger is at the top of the list. He had such an innate ability
these people he wrote to life. I’ve always respected and admired that
If you could smoke a cigarette with one poet, who would it be and what would you say?
Maybe Keats, yeah, I think it would be Keats, at least right at this moment. He was around my age when he was doing his thing, and he was bold when it came to writings of the heart. It’s hard to walk that line between what should be made public and what should stay private. I’d ask him about that, if he was ever self-conscious or afraid of that thin distinction of choice. Though I don’t know how the smoking would go over with him.
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What challenges did you face while writing the collection?
There are pieces in this collection that span from one month ago to three years ago. It was hard putting together a collection of the right thought people would want to read.
How much sleep did you lose preparing these pieces for publication?
I don’t think I could count the hours. It was more the wild nights of thinking and self-derision that came before the actual writing of some of these poems that ate up most of my nights. I was going on one or two hours of sleep a night back in the fall. That was when I was doing my best writing though.
What is your project as a poet?
I want to inspire people, but not in a conventional way. I want people to feel something – hopefully something refreshing – and I want them to get all crazy about it. There are lives being lived that people don’t normally like to talk about or ignore entirely, but there’s always ican story, but my project is everything else that surrounds it. There’s no time for apathy or ignorance, and that’s why poetry is important to me.
What do you hope people will take away from this collection of poetry? Joy, sorrow and everything in between – if the reader could pick up
picked it up – that would be enough for me.
Why don’t you use capitalization in your poems?
I do, but rarely. Capitalization is a device I like to use to give more meaning to something in the poem or to show that something is “bigger” than I am.
What advice do you have for beginning poets?
Read twice as much as you write, and don’t take life too seriously.
What would you like to do after college?
I’d like to teach college English and hopefully publish some of my work on the side. Traveling is also something I’d like to do.
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THE QUIZ&quilL SINGLE-AUTHOR CHAPBOOK is, the Q&Q editorial staff reviews and votes on the submissions of multiple authors. During the voting process, all works are left unsigned to ensure total objectivity. This year, the poetry of junior Jordy Lawrence Stewart, a creative writing major, was selected to be published in the the|chapbook. 48 QUIZ&quilL