Jennifer L. Knox’s new book of poems, The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway, is available from Bloof Books. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and four times in The Best American Poetry series, including the upcoming 2011 edition. She is currently at work on her first novel, tentatively titled, Captain Cook Returns.
RUSTY TALK WITH JENNIFER L. KNOX
Kathryn Mockler: How did you first come to writing poetry?
Jennifer L. Knox: I was 19. I wrote poems to go around the drawings I did.
KM: What keeps you going as a poet? Or why do you write?
JLK: It makes me want to go on living.:KML What is the revision process like for you?
Awesome. Writing a poem is like making a game only you know how to play. Every time you revise it, you make better rules for the game. Hopefully. You can also lose everything.
KM: How did you deal with rejection when you first started out?
JLK: I envisioned myself as a fabulously successful writer, cutting off the rejector's head with a samurai sword, then lobbing the head in the air and smashing it with a baseball bat.
KM: How would you describe the writer/editor relationship?
JLK: Sexy as shit. My editor, Shanna Compton (also my publisher), is the best editor on the planet because she has a light tough. She's a fabulous poet, and knows how much you can muck with something before you kill its soul.
KM: What authors or books would you recommend to new poets or writers?
JLK: Follow what you love.
KM: Is there a poet that had a significant impact on your literary life?
JLK: Wallace Stevens, James Tate, Richard Hugo, Denis Johnson, James Galvin.
KM: A piece of literary advice for new poets?
JLK: Indict yourself.
KM: Your funniest literary moment, if you have one.
JLK: I was reciting what I thought was a very funny poem, and no one was laughing. There was a song in the poem that I had to sing to the tune of “My Country Tis of Thee” with all kinds of dirty words in it, and everyone was just staring at me. It was like a Twilight Zone episode. I never read that poem in public again.
KM: What you are working on now?
JLK: My first novel.
JENNIFER KNOX'S MOST RECENT POETRY BOOK
The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway
Publisher: Bloof Books
Description from Bloof Books
A review in Coldfront Mag
A review in Constant Critic
A review in Publisher's Weekly
A review in Tarpaulin Sky
Bob Hicok says,
Knox's poems knock me out. They have a pace of imagination, an ease of inventiveness that gives me an excuse to use the word brio. Liquid, they river by with their danger and violence, their stories of screwing up and not fitting in. The oddities of her work create a space in which it's possible to be oddly sincere, as in a group of poems about cars which present, over and over, the difficulty of getting anywhere without accident or breakdown. To read these poems is to believe that accident and breakdown ARE the way forward, and to feel someone trying to interrogate the past generously enough to allow room for extremes of response, from shouting to atonement."Who will tell me stories/of the flowers I actually got?" It’s as if Knox is asking, what really matters, in poems that move powerfully toward an answer.
David Kirby says,
Modern poetry in general is "mostly grey clouds," says Jennifer L. Knox in
her poem 'Modern Poetry,” but throughout this collection you’ll see a red-nosed clown who dispenses useful wisdom on vegetarianism in Houston (not recommended), sex with your stepmother (fantastic!), serial car accidents (only if you want to hear your father ask “Is someone paying you to do this?”), and that Grow Your Own Cocaine Class you’ve always wanted to take at the Y (hint: after harvesting, do not leave product in unattended oven). Of all the clowns in the poetry circus, Knox is my favorite because her work is stunning to look at, full of showbiz savvy, and more than a little scary. The last thing it is is grey.
Noelle Kocot says,
Jennifer L. Knox's poems are very funny. That goes without saying. But they are also poignant, smart and compassionate. I love this poetry, and I feel very close to it. Knox is the kind of author one wants to be friends with, in Holden Caulfield's sense, after reading the work. As far as I'm concerned, there is no higher compliment for a writer.
Sharon Mesmer says,
Man, this book is fucking genius, and I never say shit like that
Rusty Talk Editor: