Contributor Interview: Jesse Wallis

As part of the launch of our Spring/Summer 2018 issue, Let Us Gather: Diversity and the Arts, we sat down with contributors to talk about their work in the issue and more. The following interview is part of this series. Please visit our website to see the complete list of contributors to Let Us Gather, to purchase the issue, or to subscribe.

Wallis, Jesse

Tell us a little about your work in Let Us Gather: Diversity and the Arts. What inspired it, how you came to write it, etc.

After our mother died, my sister and I met every Sunday for several months to sort through her things. Mom was very supportive of my creative work and carried bagfuls of my earliest journal submissions to the post office, before submitting online became the norm. When I found the scrap of paper with her solitaire scores on the kitchen counter, I knew it would become a poem. And that she had, in some way, left it for me to find and to write.

Do you have a favorite line, image, or scene from this work?

“The small slip quartered / with an ink cross, four days’ scores on / the back, each day a pane in a window, / the wins and losses bleeding through.”

What is your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Who knows what you’ll write next? (Isn’t that great!)

Tell us something fun, strange, or interesting about yourself. It can have to do with writing—or not!

Since I am remembering my mother here, I will make it a matter of public record that her childhood nickname for me was Hambone.

What’s on the writing horizon for you/what are you working on now?

I work in human resources for a public school district and do most of my new writing during summer recess, so I am looking forward to June. I will also be putting the final touches on a manuscript that I hope to begin submitting to first-book contests in the fall. My next publication will be in the upcoming issue of Barrow Street.

Jesse Wallis’s poems have appeared in CutBank, New Ohio Review, Southern Poetry Review, The Southern Review, Zone 3, Zyzzyva, and elsewhere. After living in Japan for nine years, he returned to his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, where he works in human resources for a public school district. He studied writing and film at the University of Iowa.

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