For the Summer 2014 issue of NEAT, TM and I decided to mix things up a bit. I interviewed a poet, and she did a fictioneer. We gotta keep things interesting!
I decided to interview Jennifer Finstrom, a writer and teacher who hails from Chicago. Her poems included in the Summer 2014 issue are:
“This is the poem that happens when a boy from your poetry workshop twenty-five years ago appears on Facebook”
“Almost Sonnet Written While Thinking about The Winter’s Tale and Remembering a Poem I Wrote Twenty-Five Years Ago in Northern Wisconsin Where It Snowed a Great Deal”
Jennifer’s work is nothing short of awesome, to me. I have been a huge fan of her writing since she started submitting to NEAT. (she has work in three of our five issues now). Her poetry has that raw quality that elicits the right kind of emotion — and I always love their narrative bent.
Let’s meet Jen!
How long have you been writing? What inspires your work and how has it changed over the course of your writing career?
I’ve been writing since I was in grade school. I wrote fiction before poetry, and the first fiction that I wrote was, essentially, Star Wars fanfiction (before I knew what fanfiction was). When I was in high school I was writing an epic fantasy novel that I continued to work on for several years. Even though it’s unfinished, I don’t believe that anything we write is ever a wasted activity. I learned so much from working on an extended project, and I can take what I’ve learned to not only other writing, but my work as a composition instructor and writing tutor as well.
I started writing poetry in high school and was (and still am) influenced by Sylvia Plath, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Greek mythology.
Do you have any weird writing habits? Did you drag your typewriter out of your basement and from underneath the mushrooms to write these poems?
I wish I knew what happened to my typewriter! I vanished in one of my moves. I have very fond memories of it. I don’t think that I have any weird writing habits. During much of my writing life I’ve also been waiting tables, and I think that I have scraps of poems written on placemats and order forms from everywhere I’ve worked. I’ve found that I’ve always brainstormed effectively while I was waiting tables. Now I do a lot of brainstorming on my commute, while I’m riding the train or bus. I can generally write anywhere. I don’t need any particular set of circumstances.
What is the literary scene like where you live?
I live in Chicago, and there is a wonderful open mic/reading/workshop scene here. Some reading venues are monthly and others are weekly—I try to go to as many as I can. I also facilitate a multi-genre writing group, Writers Guild, as a part of my work as a peer writing tutor at DePaul University.
If you were a literary character, who would you be and why?
I would love to be a character in one of Oscar Wilde’s plays. That way I could stand around eating cucumber sandwiches and being witty.
If all the world’s a stage, where does the audience sit?
I would like the audience to sit wherever they like: on the stage, in the aisles, wherever they feel most comfortable.
Where can fans find more of your work?
I have quite a bit of work in Eclectica Magazine’s archives. Before becoming poetry editor in fall of 2005, I was a frequent contributor. In addition to NEAT., I also have work online in FRiGG and Cider Press Review, and other work can be found in After Hours, Midwestern Gothic, RHINO, and other journals.
JENNIFER FINSTROM teaches in the First-Year Writing Program, tutors in writing, and facilitates a writing group, Writers Guild, at DePaul University. She has been the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine since October of 2005, and her work appears in RHINO, Cider Press Review, NEAT, and Midwestern Gothic, among others.