An Interview with Brett Elizabeth Jenkins

Posted in: Books, News

We’re excited to announce that our next collection, Brilliant Little Body by Brett Elizabeth Jenkins, is now available for pre-order!! The collection will be published on 1 January 2024 (what a way to start the new year!) and pre-orders will ship late December.

We interviewed Brett we could get to know her better!

How long did it take you to write Brilliant Little Body? What was your process for pulling it together?

It took me much longer than I expected to pull a first manuscript together. I first started working on a book when I was fresh out of grad school (just a wee baby of 22), and I had no idea how to order a book, and I didn’t have a sense of why or how poems could need each other. Ultimately, I think I just needed to write the poems that felt like the things I needed to say, and they made themselves known to me. Like cultivating a little family of misfits. It was a harrowing and joyful experience.

What’s a favorite poem from the collection? Why?

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think “When Non-Poets Ask Me What My Poems are About” is probably the one I like the most right now. It’s an Ars Poetica of sorts, but it also functions as a summary of the book, and of the sort of poems I write in general. That question never fails to leave me speechless, either, and when people ask me that question at a party or at a bar, now I have something to tell them.

What’s your writing routine look like?

I find it hard to stick to a routine. I rarely sit down by myself with the intention to write, so I make time to write in congregation with others. I have a writing group that meets routinely on Thursday evenings, and we have a ritual practice of reading the poems of other writers and using them as springboard into our own writing. It seems sort of like magic and science put together. It involves numbers and dice and usually crying.

Who are your favorite poets?

My all-time favorite poet is probably James Tate. He’s weird and wonderful and gives me permission to be those things, too. There are too many other favorite poets to name, but here are a few: Kim Addonizio, Mary Oliver, Jason Shinder, Ada Limón, Wisława Szymborska, Ross Gay, Danez Smith, Natalie Diaz, Kaveh Akbar.

What are you reading right now?

Every day for work I read about people’s used oil. When I’m not reading about oil, I’m reading short things because my attention span is nil. The book that’s in my bag right now is Life of the Party by Olivia Gatwood.

What’s your favorite non-writing activity?

I’m a hardcore thrifting addict. Nearly everything in my home is thifted, scooped up off the curb, gifted, or otherwise secondhand. I love finding things and giving them a second life. I once got a slightly defective antique table off of Facebook Marketplace and the woman wanted to make sure I knew that one leg was broken but was mended back together. I told her, “It’s okay, I make a habit of adopting objects with minor flaws. Especially men.”

Brett’s Writing Space
Brett’s cat, Lord Richard Pritchard Steves-Jenkins III, who is clearly essential to the writing process. He’ll allow you to call him Rick Steves.
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