Contributor Interview: Jackie Rigoni

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.


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.

As we all know, inspiration can shine through any slat in the fence if we are open to receive it. The inspiration for my poem, Life, Death, and Breakfast, came when I pulled into my driveway and opened the car door to find this leaf perfectly and impossibly balanced on the pin tip of a succulent. It was too impossible not to be a message. I managed to snap some pictures. The image stayed with me until it crystalized into this poem.

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

This line is my favorite, since it was the launching point of the poem:

But I know how a fallen leaf can / hang in the balance for a lifetime /on the pin tip of a succulent.

You were a finalist in the Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers, which means that this is one of your first pieces of published work in your genre. How long have you been writing, and what did being a finalist in the competition mean to you?

I’ve been writing in various forms, both recreationally and professionally, but only recently have I started to send out poetry for publication. As much as I’d like to say that my ego is not concerned with external reinforcement, having my work connect with someone enough for them to acknowledge it as a finalist for the Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers is an honor and a motivation to risk putting my poems out in the world again. In fact, since sending this piece out, I’ve had two others accepted for publication, which added to my credentials for being named Poet Laureate of my hometown of Belmont, California.

What is your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Immerse yourself in your local writer community. Put your work out there before you are ready.

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

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Marshall Islands and still speak fluent Marshallese, a language spoken by about 44,000 people.

Jacki Rigoni writes and teaches within the found spaces of single parenting her three children in the San Francisco Bay area. She has an M.A. in English from UC Berkeley. An award-winning Creative Director and Copywriter by profession, Jacki’s other writing work can be seen on TV and the back of snack packaging.

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