TEN with Jessy Randall

This week’s interview features Jessy Randall, co-author of Shape of a Box’s Issue 8.  Her a full-length collection of poems, A Day in Boyland from Ghost Road Press was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.  She also has four chapbooks published, numerous works published in journals, and her third issue of The Huge Underpants of Gloom is available.  Her young adult novel, The Wandora Unit, will be released in September 2009.  We caught up with Jessy in her Colorado home while she was helping her children create a baguette sandwich on their Light Brite.  (It was nearly lunchtime.)  She agreed to our interview, IF we promised to play Foldingoes with her kids so she could read for a bit afterwards.

  1. What was the first book/poem/phrase that rocked your world? I’m going to go with Daniel Pinkwater’s Lizard Music, a book I read every couple of years even now. A middle-school-age kid takes care of himself for two weeks and ends up visiting a hidden island full of talking lizards. He visits the Museum of Memory, which displays lost things, including things you yourself have lost — I still think of that museum all the time.
  2. Dr. Who picks you up in the Tardis. Where/when do you go? You have no idea how fraught with meaning this question is for me. I made a Doctor Who movie with some friends in the early 1980s — you can see portions of it here and here. I think I’ll give a postmodern answer and say that I’ll hop into the TARDIS with the tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and have him take me back to hang out with the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), during the time Ramana (in her second body, Lalla Ward) was his companion, and then we’ll all go to a faraway planet some time in the far future, possibly with Daleks.
  3. What was your first published piece & where was it published? The answer to both these questions is “Crystal News.” When I was in third grade, my elementary school had a poet-in-residence program. I wrote many, many poems that year. One of them, about salt, became the title poem for the literary magazine we made. My first non-school publication was a set of feminist poems published in The Unforgettable Fire, a New Jersey literary magazine. I think one of them was about how pantyhose oppresses women. That magazine no longer exists.
  4. Do you think the internet hurts or helps literature? I started to write “HELPS” with a lot of exclamation marks but then I had to draw back. I think we’re all reading and writing a lot more because of the internet, but is that “literature”? I don’t know. I’m still going to say helps.
  5. What about authors? Again, helps. I have discovered so many poets through online literary magazines, poets I never would have found by reading paper journals.
  6. When the well is dry, how do you fill it? My well is always at least damp, I think. In the last few years I’ve had a lot of poems spring out of books I’m reading. Julia Child’s My Life in France, Lynda Barry’s One! Hundred! Demons!, Calvin Tomkins’s biography of Robert Rauschenberg, Maira Kalman’s The Principles of Uncertainty, and just recently a book about American Chinese food by Jennifer 8. Lee called The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.
  7. Favorite writing tool? I must have a Boorum & Pease composition notebook, green. For years I’ve had what seemed like an unending supply but there are only two or three left, so I’ll have to restock.
  8. Your biggest fans just burst into the room. How many are there & how do you react? It’s the three people who almost always write back to my poetry announcements, and I burst into tears at my good luck and make introductions.
  9. Why did you submit to Shape of a Box? I loved the idea of poetry videos. I’m very interested in digital poetry, the kinds of poetry-objects you can have on the internet and not on paper.
  10. Fill in the blank: In the vast Poet Sea, I am: a little piece of lettuce-like seaweed floating happily near the shore.

Now, does anyone have any purple compasses?

4 Comments on “TEN with Jessy Randall

  1. Hey Jessy — I enjoyed this. A lot. I’m going to try and find Lizard music for my daughter. I too was a Dr. Who fan, and if you ever visit me, you will see that my house actually IS the Tardis, and replete with aliens. I agree that the internet helps writers (literature) but it’s also a pickle. i’ve posted 7 chapters of a book on a forum, and now someone says i can’t publish the final, as it’s been published. i didn’t know I was a publisher. as for being a piece of sea-weed, the last thing I would think is that you are a happy little piece of lettuce. Interesting. i also agree that panty-hose oppresses women, but now totally weird tights are all the rage. Have we overcome? or do we need to cut off our legs? In my opinion, the oppressor has been heels. high heels. And everything else out there intended to show off our “natural” beauty. yeah, yeah. Anyway, I enjoyed this interview. Congrats. julianza


  2. Hi Jess – your answer to question 3 struck me right between the eyes when you discussed your poet-in-residence program at school. I’ve been reading about how out-of-the-ordinary educational opportunities at a young age can shape a person’s future. I feel more than ever it’s so important to provide our kids with as many of these opportunities as possible both in an out of school. Creative writing, math camp, gymnastics or sailing lessons could be a few of these. Thanks for this!

    Your cousin and big fan,

    P.S. I love tights and pantyhose, and don’t see much of a difference!


  3. I think Jessy has more than three biggest fans, but if there really are only three, I sure hope I’m counted as the President.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: