SuW: Since I last interviewed you for the Duende issue, a lot has happened in your life. How would you describe the impact this has had on your writing?
JC: I looked at the archives to remind myself of the time frame of that Deunde issue and it was April 2006, seven years ago. At that time, I was in my early 30s, involved with the man I married later that year, and starting to become more well published in poetry land. Also, it was near the end of that year that I started my own small poetry-based print press, Blood Pudding Press.
You say your brain is more visual than it used to be. Do you mean regarding the creative process? When you have an idea for a poem and begin to write it, do you see it as a series of images?
A lot HAS changed since then. When I was 37, I had an unexpected health issue, a Carotid Artery Dissection, that caused that area to bleed out by 99%, which lead to a stroke, which resulted in some brain loss and a small version of Aphasia. Exactly one year after that, I got divorced. Now I'm 40, technically disabled and golly does time speed race, and it doesn't help matters that my reading skills are considerably slower than they used to be.
I still have my passion for poetry though, still have a strong creative flow, have gotten more into the visual art realm too, since my brain is more visual than it used to be. Blood Pudding Press still exists and recently published its third poetry chapbook of 2013 ("Sister, Blood and Bone" by Paula Cary, May 2013) and I also run a blog style online literary magazine called Thirteen Myna Birds.
As for my own poetic content, I don't think it has drastically changed, but I think my poetry style is a bit less story-like than it used to be. Overall my poems tend to be shorter, more concise, and a bit more abstract.
Yes regarding the processing AND spurting things out visually - but as far as your second question, it's closer to the other way around. My poem words don't pop out of my head as images - but images pop out of my head a lot more than they used to - and when I create art-based images (like painting/collage art fusions), they sometimes strike me as akin to visual poem sorts.
After I create a visual art piece, I sometimes entitle it based on a pre-existing poem, almost as though it is an image related to that poem. For example, one of the mini painting/collage art snippets I very recently created was then entitled "doll crematorium". AFTER that title spurted out, I then realized that it derived from post-stroke poems of mine. I've used the word 'crematorium' in quite a few poems, but here's a few lines from the poem this tiny painting best seems to fit, called Deadly Doll Head Dissection - "A dolly crematorium, an almost life less doll. A doll scatterbrained, a doll agitating until it barfs up more awful doll head gobbledygook. A spitting and hacking doll. Spinning, falling and flailing inside the doll vomitorium. A dark doll somnambulating and throwing up."
The same poem also seems to relate to another small painting/collage created the same night and called "padded hurl". Here are a few more lines from Deadly Doll Head Dissection - "A doll hurling jerky truffles, a doll unfurling quirky squiggles. A scary doll giggles then explodes like a dollcano. Bloody shimmering doll. Hotly whirring doll. Rising up doll head."
I remember when I was working on writing Deadly Doll Head Dissection, I felt that it probably was not going to make much sense to anyone, content-wise (and it might be perceived as absurdly gross borderline silly) - but whether or not others understand its content, I know what it means to me. It's about brain loss, breakage, losing my appeal to any standard sensibilities.
Another painting/collage art of mine, called FRIGHT WIGS HANG was named using one of the first phrases in an older poem of mine called "Backstage"- "Fright wigs hang from shiny hooks /in the dressing room. Our real hair/ is a pink buzz, stiff/ the way certain kinds of cake frosting/ respond to certain kinds of beaters". I wasn't thinking of that poem WHILE painting, but after I finished the painting, the poem entered my head and seemed to fit. Since my recent poetry AND my visual art both strike me as expressionistic in a rather abstract sort of way, this sort of brain wave fusion makes sense to me.