BR&S Spotlight: Meet Jeffrey Pearson

Meet Jeffrey Pearson!author-photo-jrp

Jeff Pearson is a graduate of the University of Idaho’s MFA Program. He has been published by Noble / Gas Quarterly, Black Rock & Sage, Otis Nebula, a capella zoo, Heavy Feather Review, Shampoo, Salt Front, Axolotl, and Moon City Review. He has work forthcoming in Barrelhouse.  His first chapbook, Sick Bed was published by Small Text Dreams Press in collaborating with Eli Z. McCormick and James Lloyd. He currently teaches at Washington State University.

This month, we had the opportunity to chat with Jeff about his favorite places, books, and literary magazines—as well as really important subjects, like the glory of tacos and a dinner party with Gertrude Stein, Joseph Smith, and Leonard Nemoy! Jeff also offers some great advice for aspiring writers and literary magazine editors.

  1. What three traits define you?

Sensitive, impulsive, and loyal

  1. What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?

Humor.  I couldn’t bear to live without laughing.  What is that horrible saying that is stenciled on in god-awful serifs throughout bedrooms and on weighty keychains: live, laugh, love?  If I couldn’t find humor in making fun of the kitsch that is daily life, I wouldn’t want to live. I need to be able to laugh at neighbors because of their wifi access point names (like my neighbor’s wifi access point, livelaughlove).

  1. What is your greatest fear?

That’s a hard one. I get scared discovering or dwelling on fears, because of the possibility of obsession around those fears. But I think my greatest fear would have to be losing interest or curiosity. I constantly have to acknowledge that my interests change, which is not my fear, but that I am scared to death that I will totally lose interest in everything.  It probably has to do with medication symptoms I hear on TV and them being related to depression. I also think non-curious people are boring.

  1. Where is your favorite place to be?

At home around my stuff. I am introverted in the way that I need to stay home and recover from daily social interactions, i.e. teaching, running errands, talking to friends, talking on the phone with family, etc. When it comes to these social interactions, I think I come off as outgoing and fine with engaging with other people, but I truly have to go home and stay home—away for days from these interactions in order to recover. Centering myself with my favorite media helps this process.

  1. What is your favorite thing to do?

Nap with my cat, Inky.

  1. Where is the best place you have ever visited? Why?

This last summer I went to Germany. It was amazing to be in another country and have to rely on my girlfriend for almost all communication, except in Berlin and Munich where most people speak quite a bit of English. We toured the Reichstag and learned about the government process, which is very much about transparency along with taking a walking tour in Munich, where I finally felt part of history. I also got to ride in my first sleeper car overnight from Berlin to Munich, and I love trains.  I would never drive my car again, if the U.S. had a train system like Germany.

  1. What would be your ideal career?

Some days I wish I were writing video games, specifically visual novels.

  1. What is your favorite book, movie, and band?

That’s difficult.  I really like Nabokov’s Pale Fire. The last movie I really liked was last week when I watched Repo Man with Emilio Estevez. And I’ve also been listening to a lot of Badbadnotgood, which is a jazz band that has somehow snared hipsters by featuring rappers like Ghostface Killah.  It’s good music to write to.

  1. What is something that might surprise us about you?

That I am the youngest of eight siblings—six sisters and one brother.

  1. What is your favorite quote?

I like this one, even out of context, by Henry James: “We work in the dark—we do what we can, we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task.  The rest is the madness of art.”

  1. If you could have a dinner party with ANY three people (dead or alive), who would they be and why?

Gertrude Stein, Joseph Smith, and Leonard Nemoy because it would be a huge surprise what the small talk would be about if we even talked at all.

  1. If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Tacos al pastor with lime, salsa verde, guacamole, and cilantro.

  1. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?

Paul Newman

  1. If you were an animal what would you be?

Some kind of predatory bird like an Osprey.

  1. If you were stuck on an island, what three things would you bring?

A machete, The Harvard Classics five-foot shelf of books, and writing materials

  1. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Flying even though I am scared of heights.

  1. What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

I play a lot of Japanese Role-playing Games (JRPGs) and have been since I was 6 years old. I like bird watching, poetry, re-building and fixing computers, and listening to records. I also like to go on long drives and take different routes to destinations I drive to often.

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Probably still teaching and writing.  I see myself traveling internationally more.  I am also trying to be less selfish, and so I see more and more that I dedicate my time to teaching, even if it is my job, also.  I’ve learned that if I don’t focus on my skill at teaching, I really appreciate being able to help someone with something, even if it is composition, I am knowledgeable about. I think it really helps me to change my worldview, and it definitely gives me more empathy.  There may be a point where I have to go back to working a mindless job manufacturing something.  My girlfriends’ family makes hot water solar panels, so maybe I’ll be doing that in 5 years.  I think sometimes I am too sensitive to deal with adult problems especially when it comes to being a college student, that’s probably the reason I might stop teaching.

  1. Do you have any favorite literary magazines/publications that you’d like to give a shout out to?

I have to plug the one’s I’ve read and worked for:  Fugue journal where I was Poetry Editor and a reader for 3 years and Blood Orange Review where I am Managing Editor.  I also like many of the journals that create conversations with their writers instead of just publishing them (or even rejecting them), no matter the notoriety; being a writer is pretty lonely sometimes.  I’ve been mostly interested in the online writing community lately, so I frequently follow journals and magazines on twitter.  Some web journals and publications that I am reading with lots of online content are: Otis Nebula, Waxwing, Vagabond City, Sundog Lit, The Mackinac, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Barrelhouse, Vinyl, and Arcadia.  I also really like ekphrasis projects and journals with artist and writer collaborations: Broadsided Press, Prompt Press, and frequently, many journals have been doing features around this theme.    

  1. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists and literary magazine editors?

Don’t be afraid to join writing communities or scenes.  You can always find better writers to learn from even if they are so damn good that they seem godly.  You can always find writers that won’t like your work.  Most importantly, there is always something to teach other writers, artists, or editors no matter your skill.  This is why I think collaboration, being part of literary magazines, submitting your work, workshopping, doing public readings, tweeting links to poems online, starting your own journals, zines, presses, is so important.  This doesn’t mean throwing your writing willy-nilly to anyone who will publish it, but to open the lines of communication and correspondence where you can give and take creative energy, but always respect people who want to read your work and share your work. Publishing always gives you something to look forward to, even if it is for rejection notices.

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