The Marcus Jackson Microinterview
This month we feature a special Cave Canem edition of Late Night Debut! John Murillo and Camille Rankine join forces to discuss Marcus Jackson’s debut collection of poetry, Neighborhood Register. Acclaimed poet Carl Phillips praises Jackson’s debut: “Like Langston Hughes, Jackson uses the clearest language to celebrate the complexity and durability of the human will.”
We recently caught up with Marcus, and he answered some questions for our listeners and readers.
What is your favorite work of debut poetry or fiction published in 2011 or early 2012?
My favorite poetry debut was probably Spit Back a Boy, by Iain Haley Pollock. The collection is filled with wonderful poems that braid history into memory and personal experience.
Name one or two writers who have influenced you, either in general or specifically, in writing Neighborhood Register.
Numerous writers have influenced me deeply, but if I have to pick just a couple, I’ll go with Rita Dove and Ted Kooser. Both poets exhibit absolute control on the page and have that rare ability to let the poems take sudden turns that yield imaginative gold.
What are a few things you learned or discovered after your collection was published that you wish you had known or anticipated beforehand?
I learned that one of the most important parts of writing is the turning over of your work to the ears of the reader. As poets, we spend so many hours trying to make poems better—trying to shape them toward identities we’ve imagined to be fulfilling. The reader will hear music and thoughts, and will feel sensations that we, as writers, didn’t fully intend, and that’s a wonderful thing. The reader is the one who brings the poems to their most valuable existences.
Click here for the Neighborhood Register episode of Late Night Debut.