What do you call someone who opens an independent brick & mortar bookstore in this age of e-everything?
A bit of both?
NOPE. Not at all.
I call him a super hero!
Christopher J. Jarmick is not only a marvelous poet, but a owner of the wonderful BookTree in Kirkland, Washington.
And I had the good fortune to publish his incredibly passionate collection Not Aloud with MoonPath Press.
A little more about Chris:
Christopher J. Jarmick is owner of BookTree, Kirkland’s independent book store. Creative and Freelance Writer, he’s author of Not Aloud (2015 MoonPath Press).
Visit him on his blog, PoetryIsEverything
Click this Link to Chris’ Poetry is Everything blog
Before I get to the interview with Chris, I can’t help but post a favorite poem from Not Aloud.
First question, Chris–
What brought you to poetry?
It happened in stages. First Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson and Dr. Seuss. Rhymes were fun.
Then I discovered Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti when I was about 11. I thought this is amazing.
This is poetry?
Who is this guy?
And getting answers meant going to the library back in those pre-internet/Google days and asking questions.
I learned about the ‘beats’ and this amazing poem called “Howl”:
I tried to understand more about these poems and poets and I became interested in their influences Blake, Baudelaire, Rexroth,Whitman (plus many many others and noticed some anti-war poetry from Denise Levertov and others).
I started writing poetry and got a poem published in a national magazine when I was 12 (Dear Troubled Youth).
I must be a writer and poet, right?
And so I was bit.
I realized how poorly poetry was taught in schools (most of the time) and I would have soured to it if I had not made my discoveries and done research on my own.
What is the best advice you received as a writer?
Read everything and remain curious.
Read, observe, and listen.
You want to be open and truthful and develop your b.s. detector.
If you don’t like reading very much, you aren’t going to be a writer worth reading.
‘Write every day’ is also very good advice.
Too many resist this one.
Write fast and edit later.
If you can’t just write, get a prompt and write to the prompt and challenge yourself.
You learn more by failing than by being successful.
So fail often (hopefully in private).
It is important to also accept that it is okay to skip a day or two of writing.
Forgive yourself. But no excuses. No laziness.
Develop the habit, the writing addiction.
Get over yourself and write even if it is junk.
You absolutely must read every day however.
Read more, write often and accept that most of what you write will be awful.
What is the least helpful advice you received?
“Write what you know.”
It should be:
Write and when you discover you don’t know what you are writing about—research, learn and then write some more.
You don’t know, what you don’t know and you are always learning so why would you stick to writing what you know?
Writing is always a journey and journeys are supposed to be meaningful and that means you are learning as you journey; sharing and teaching as you write.
As you experience life of course write about that, but let it lead you to new paths and new discoveries.
“Find your voice” is another bit of supposedly helpful advice that is also problematic.
You already have a voice and while you absolutely need to explore and discover as much about yourself and therefore develop your voice, it is already a part of you.
It’s the voice that is insisting you write.
You can write in different voices, you can be a mimic, you can stretch and should stretch until you are uncomfortable and then stretch some more.
The true voice that you already have will tell you what is b.s. and what is honest if you remember to listen.
If you read and listen more than you write you’ll have an authentic voice– nothing to ‘find’, it’s already within.
Most creative people go through difficult or dark times.
What helps bring you back up when you are down?
If you get to your 30s or beyond and are a sensitive creative sort of spirit, then you have developed some coping mechanisms that are working.
Managing frustration, foul moods, self-doubts and other things would be a full-time job if I didn’t develop a way to take a quick time-out.
Get the hell out of my own head.
Stop blaming others. Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, abusers… the blame game won’t let you heal.
Deep breathing exercises a couple of times per day (5 minutes is often enough time) and some positive self-talk that isn’t too sweet or insipid is necessary.
All you have control over is how you will deal with the day.
Let good things happen.
Let the good in.
There is also good around you that is yours for the asking.
So ask and take some of the good.
When darkness closes in I wonder if there is someone I have not forgiven that I am allowing to take control of my mood.
You must forgive and stop carrying more weight around than you need to.
There will be times when you might have to fake it for the benefit of someone near you that doesn’t need your dark mood.
The most difficult person to forgive is yourself but you must learn how to be better at that every day.
There are some people that I used to spend time with who were very negative and overly critical.
I can be negative and overly-self-critical without anyone’s help so obviously I learned that life is too short to spend too much time with very negative, ‘mean’ people.
Most of these people weren’t close friends so it’s common sense to limit my time with them.
I don’t have to avoid them, its simply a matter of not spending too much time with them.
One can also escape with a movie, or a book or by eating a little too much ice cream or playing music waaaay too loud.
I learned by my mid 20s that killing yourself slowly through drugs or alcohol is just another way of wasting time and being irresponsible.
It creates more problems and more darkness.
And too much escape will only create a super storm that will knock you on your ass.
Sometimes I recognize a dark cloud coming in and I can minimize its visit.
I sometimes can be affected and even infected by my perception of someone else’s mood.
It may not even be completely real and I take it upon myself. Foolish.
I tell myself it might make me a better writer but it doesn’t help my balance.
Having a variety of ways to deal with the challenges is important.
Sometimes my methods are successful. Sometimes it is being in the writing zone, writing away for hours at a time that keeps me somewhat sane.
What do you want others to know about your poetry?
It is an exploration, a journey, a specific observation.
It doesn’t take itself too seriously and the poem itself is not sacred—behind the scenes the act of writing the poem is sacred (often)—but you do not need to ever give a damn about that.
My poem is alive.
My poems (most of them) are cats, dogs, chickens, or insects.
I would like the poem to allow you to consider or ponder or explore something differently.
Many poems have done this for me and so I want my poems to do it for others.
I would love if my poem assists you and what I think I mean by that is
a) it connects to you perhaps giving you a little more confidence or helps someone to feel a little less alone, a little less crazy
b) it inspires you
c) it makes you smile
d) it resonates because of how it states something or because of a meaning you see in the words
e) it makes you uneasy, it bothers you or makes you a little angry
f) bottom line: it compels you to react and do something (maybe even write).
Some of the poems I write are fun, even show off a little, some are satiric, sarcastic and hopefully done with wit and respect for language.
I hope a poem or two of mine will make the reader (or listener) think, okay that’s a little different AND it’s poetic.
A writer reads.
A writer writes.
A poet as the word origin dictates: creates.
(Poesis~Greek word for creation is root of poetry).
Here’s another poem by Christopher J. Jarmick:
LEARNING FROM LEONARD COHEN
about best defenses;
keep tears back
with a smile;
never leave the heart out
upon your sleeve.
Some do get older
with vulnerable hearts.
in an eye proves
a passionate intense life.
It is a blessing,
It is brave, very
If you have met
a few who understand,
you are rich.