Quick Temper with I. S. Jones


I.S. Jones is a queer American-Nigerian poet and music journalist from Southern California by way of New York. She is a Graduate Fellow with The Watering Hole, Callaloo, & BOAAT Writer’s Retreat. She is the Assistant Editor at Voicemail Poetry and Chaparral as well as the Managing Editor of Dead End Hip Hop. Her works have appeared in The Offing, great weather for MEDIA, Anomalous Press, The Shade Journal, the Black Voices Series with Puerto Del Sol, in Nat.Brut and elsewhere. She received her MFA in 2016.

Here’s Quick Temper with I. S. Jones –

Why do you write?
Language is the texture in which I engage the world. It’s curious because I was on my way home the other day, and I swear to you I was thinking: What exactly makes a writer, “a writer”…? And it’s this urgency to negotiate what language is capable of, what it in evokes in you and in others. I have so much going on in my head at all times and writing is how I release it.

Who do you hope reads your work?
I write for the Black girls. I write for the immigrant children. I write for people born in America with non-American names and have to negotiate what being ‘othered’ does to the body. I hope they would want to read my work. I hope my mom will read my work and the teachers— Eduardo C. Corral, Jericho Brown, Gregory Pardlo, Tara Betts, and many others—who believe in me and have helped me along the way.

Where does the anger in your work come from? How does it manifest?
I would like this focus this question in just a little bit and differentiate between ‘anger’ and ‘rage’. Yes, I am angry about many things. Anger dissipates. Anger is ephemeral. Anger passes through the body the way a storm eventually looses its teeth. Rage, however, is deliberate, waits in quiet knowing hours to cultivate itself, sharpens its teeth in moonlight. Rage dreams of dictators toppling. Rage plans and execute those plans with success. I am a poet full of rage. Right now my first collection, which reimagines Cain & Abel as sisters, is giving me the space to investigate, “What kind of rage manifests a monster? One that shares your blood?”. The manuscript has been a wild ride so far.

Angry book recommendations for angry readers?
Everything by Audre Lorde of course. VIRGIN by Analicia Sotelo, BLOOD DAZZLER by Patricia Smith, BLUD by Rachel McKibbens, REFUSE by Julian Randall.

I. S. Jones will be reading with us on the 29th of September, at 8pm. Follow her on Twitter.

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