Poetry Blog: Jaclyn Youhana Garver

Following is an interview conducted by Superstition Review‘s Poetry Editor, Erin Peters.

Jaclyn Youhana Garver is a freelance writer in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She writes fiction and poetry, and she has been featured in Narrow Road, Poets Reading the News, and Prometheus Dreaming (forthcoming). Her work has also been chosen by the Wick Poetry Center as a Traveling Stanza selection.  


Jaclyn’s Poem:

A COLLEGE GIRL MAKES WARDROBE DECISIONS BASED ON THE POSSIBILITY OF A RANDOM TSA SCREENING

    1964

White kid gloves / cinched waist / her perched hat the 
precise plum match to her two-piece suit / a corsage

    (seriously, a goddamned corsage)

/ a Cherries in the Snow pout / a blushing visage 
coral or rose / a fur, perhaps, in beaver or lamb.

    2004

Pajama pants, peppered in cartoons / flip flops 
with jewels that stud the thongs / pigtails 

    (seriously, goddamn pigtails)

/ a gray T-shirt that boasts, 
“Journalists do it daily.”

Don’t look at me, Terry, standing in line. I know 
you’ve a quota to meet, so many at random

searches to complete to assure you don’t permit on 
the plane any drugs, bombs or hydrogen dioxide. 

    (Water, Terry, I’m talking about water.)

It doesn’t matter, though. You’ll search me nonetheless, 
just like that agent last time and the agent who’ll be next.

And anyways, I’ll stick with PJs and pigtails, my sandwich 
board to shout I’m threatening like sidewalk chalk, an eagle 

scout, freckles, and winks, but apparently, the extra melanin 
in my skin, a gift from my father, means you must pull me

from the line, away from my friends—none of whom you
also select at random, I see, goddamn it, Terry—so you 

run the backs of your Caucasian hands along my Persian arms, 
my cartooned inseam, my Assyrian torso. Then you make me move 

my Iranian pigtails from my Middle Eastern shoulders. 
You look so bored, Terry, and I wonder if you notice: 

We’re quite the chatty portrait of our country tis of thee.

Interview With Jaclyn:

The setting of your poem is very specific and relatable for people who have travelled in American airports. What inspired you to write about the experience of a TSA screening?

This summer, I found a photo of myself at an airport in 2004, with two college friends, on the way to a Society of Professional Journalists conference in NYC. For the three or so years after 9/11, I began to be “randomly” searched on every flight I boarded. Seriously. Every flight. I thought it would help if I dressed in an unintimidating way. I remember I did this each time I flew, but it was wild to see photographic proof, especially compared to two other young adults who were dressed in, you know, normal airplane-appropriate clothing. Finding the photo, seeing how 21-year-old me felt like she had to dress, seriously pissed me off.

You’ve spent an impressive amount of time working for daily newspapers during your professional career. How do you feel this writing experience impacted you creatively? 

I can’t even imagine writing creatively without my journalism experience. Writing for a daily newspaper made me completely deadline-focused. If a journalist doesn’t finish her story on time, there could an actual hole in the newspaper. Plus, the piece needs to be done well and accurately, often in hours or less—journalists don’t have days and days to perfect a piece of writing. 

I adore the saying Done is better than perfect. Writers, especially creative writers, can get stuck in this I can’t show this to anyone because it’s not perfect hole. Then nothing ever gets finished. Writing for a daily newspaper was a wonderful way to keep from being too precious about my words. What I write matters, and it’s important to me, but once I turn in a story, it’s on to the next thing.

Writing for daily publication also gave me tough skin. I adore editor feedback and love seeing how subsequent drafts improve. Similarly, I also trust my gut. Writing is a wonderful mixture of both subjectivity and objectivity, even in poetry. My newspaper experience gave me an almost scientific approach to being creative.

What audience do you hope to reach through your poetry? Why is this audience meaningful to you?

As a reader, the best feeling is “Oh my goodness, you too? I thought I was the only one.” As a writer, then, that’s who I want to reach—anyone who has felt like me, to help them feel less alone. Strangely, the opposite is true, too: It’s such a rush to be told “I never thought of it in that way before.” 

Those audiences are meaningful to me because it means we have a shared experience. Especially in 2020, feeling a connection—to anyone, even some writer you’ve never met—is vital. 

How has the global pandemic impacted your creative process?

The pandemic hasn’t impacted my creative process so much as it’s impacted my creative output. I’ve written poetry since I was about 12 and I had a writing minor in college, so writing creatively has always been a part of my life. However, the pandemic made me itch to do more. I answered that by enrolling in a poetry class. The instructor helped me figure out what was missing from my poetry unlike any writing teacher I’ve had before. After the class, I asked where she was teaching next, and I signed up for that class, too. She helped me see where and how my work could be improved, which simultaneously showed me how to edit my own work.

This year has been hard, and there are a few things I can point to and say “That, specifically, made things a little easier.” Writing poetry is one of those things.

What is the most important piece of advice you have received as a writer?

In college, a journalism professor taught us to let the other person have the last say. When someone reaches out to a reporter to complain about something they wrote, the caller or emailer doesn’t actually care what the writer has to say about it. They just want to be heard (and maybe to be nasty). That knowledge, that someone who has something mean to say isn’t looking for a response, is incredibly freeing.

What are your upcoming projects?

I have a number of manuscripts in the works, but two are currently taking up the most of my time—a poetry book and a women’s fiction novel, which I will be pitching to agents early next year. I also write horror short stories. I love bouncing between genres and working on projects of varying lengths.

Contributor Update: Victor Lodato

Morning, readers! Today we’ve got a spectacular bit of news: past contributor Victor Lodato, who was featured in the Interviews section of our 8th issue (which can be read here), has published his newest novel, titled “Edgar & Lucy,” out now from St. Martin’s Press. Hailed by the New York Times as a “riveting and exuberant ride,” Lodato’s novel can be purchased here. Do yourself a favor and read the novel Lodato spent ten years in the making, and see for yourself exactly why we here at  Superstition Review think that “Edgar & Lucy” is destined to be your new favorite book.

Buy this book!
“Edgar & Lucy,” the new novel out from St. Martin’s Press by past contributor Victor Lodato.

Contributor Update: Darrin Doyle

Well howdy, readers! This afternoon, Superstition Review is glad to announce that past contributor Darrin Doyle, who was featured in the Interviews section of our 8th issue (which can be read here) and the Fiction section of our 16th issue (which can be read here), has recently released the first album from his rock/folk/karate trio Daryl & the Beans, titled Burnin’ the Eagle, which can be purchased here. The album itself is $8, and all proceeds from the sale of this record go to funding a scholarship for students in the Creative Writing program at Central Michigan University. If you’re so inclined, feel free to up the proverbial ante and pitch a few extra bucks toward this wonderful cause when you purchase the album! Do yourself, and the students of Central Michigan University, a huge favor and purchase Burnin’ the Eagle.

Buy this record!
Burnin’ The Eagle, the debut album from Daryl & the Beans, featuring past contributor Darrin Doyle.

Contributor Update: Kevin Prufer

Greetings, dear readers! We’ve got some tremendous news for you all today: past contributor Kevin Prufer, featured in the Interviews section of our 7th Issue, has a poem in the Spring 2017 issue of The Paris Review, titled “The Translator.” Check it out here, and do yourself the kindness of reading our interview with Kevin here. If you’d like to see more Kevin’s work, go ahead and check out his website, found here. Congratulations, Kevin! And readers, stay posted for more updates on the happenings of the incredible community here at Superstition Review.

Read "The Translator!"
Past contributor Kevin Prufer, whose poem “The Translator” was featured in the Spring 2017 issue of The Paris Review.

Contributor Update: Tayari Jones

Good afternoon, dear readers! Today, we are thrilled beyond reason to announce that former contributor and fan favorite Tayari Jones has a new novel coming out next year, titled “An American Marriage,” which will be put out by Algonquin Books. Jones has previously penned the novel titled “Silver Sparrow,” and was featured in the Interview section of our 2nd issue here at Superstition Review. “An American Marriage” is available for pre-order here, and the aforementioned interview can be read here. If you’d like to get the news straight from Tayari herself, sign up for her mailing list here.

The stunning cover for “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones, out next February from Algonquin Books.

Contributor Update: Valerie Bandura

Hey everybody! We here at Superstition Review are excited to announce that our former interview advisor and poet extraordinaire Valerie Bandura has a new book out this month from Black Lawrence Press titled “Human Interest.” Valerie served Superstition Review as our Interview Advisor, aiding our interns in providing you, dear readers, with the insights and tidbits that you crave from all of your favorite writers. If you haven’t already, do yourself the kindness of familiarizing yourself with the Interview section of each issue of Superstition Review, starting with the most recent issue, found here. Once you’ve read all the brilliant conversations contained therein, go grab yourself one (or two, or seven) copies of “Human Interest,” available now, and found very easily by clicking right HERE.

Buy this book!
The new book from Valerie Bandura, titled “Human Interest,” out now from Black Lawrence Press.

Contributor Update: Hannah Lee Jones

Hey there, folks! We’re proud as all get out to announce that past contributor Hannah Lee Jones was recently featured on Copper Canyon Press’ Official Facebook Page as part of their #MeetTheInternMonday segment. The whole Q&A can be viewed here. Hannah Lee Jones’ work was featured in the Poetry section of our 16th issue, and can be read here. Jones is also responsible for the blog Primalschool.org, a wonderful community resource for poets and writers pursuing their craft outside of the MFA system. Check out her work and her website as well, and drop us a line in the comments section below!

Hannah Lee Jones
Past contributor Hannah Lee Jones, who was recently featured in Copper Canyon’s #MeetTheInternMonday segment, is also responsible for Primalschool.org.

Contributor Update: Patricia Clark

Hello everybody! We here at Superstition Review are pleased to bring a bit of follow-up news regarding past contributor Patricia Clark (featured in the Poetry section of our  7th, 8th, and 17th issues) and her brilliant new book, titled “The Canopy.” Clark was interviewed by WYCE 88.1, a local radio station in Grand Rapids, as part of their Electric Poetry series, while “The Canopy” was recently reviewed by Cultured.GR, an art blog based in Grand Rapids.  The entire review can be read here, and while you’re at it, do yourself a big favor and listen to the interview here. Patricia Clark’s “The Canopy,” out now from Terrapin Books, can be purchased here. Do yourself a favor and check out “The Canopy” and see for yourself what all the hype is about!

Buy this book! Tell yr friends!
The beautifully rendered cover for The Canopy, out this year from Terrapin Books.

Contributor Update: Micah Dean Hicks

Good afternoon, dear readers! Today we’re turning the spotlight to past contributor Micah Dean Hicks, who was recently interviewed by Abbie Lahmers over at Arts & Letters, a national literary journal housed over in Georgia College’s MFA program. The interview covers everything from Micah’s strategies for world-building within fiction to his influences and present reading recommendations: all of this and more can be found here! Micah’s story “The Man With Strange Luck” was featured in the Fiction section of our 13th issue, and can be read here. And if you’re hungry for more of Micah’s work, his collection of stories “Electricity and Other Dreams,” out from New American Press, is available for purchase here. Do yourself a favor and immerse yourself in the rich landscapes of Micah Dean Hicks, and stay posted for details about new work from him, and all of the other immensely talented folks that have contributed to Superstition Review.

Micah Dean Hicks, past contributor who was recently interviewed by Arts & Letters.
Micah Dean Hicks, past contributor who was recently interviewed by Arts & Letters.

Editorial Preferences in Art: Ashlee Cunningham

To me art must tell a story, whether it is a complex one or a simple one. Looking at a piece of artwork and having an emotional response means the artist did his or her job. One of my favorite leisurely activities is to go to an art museum with my dad and try to figure out the story behind what the artist is conveying through the piece. Whether we come up with serious stories or sometimes silly ones, everyone sees art differently and that is what I love about art: it speaks to us all in a different way.
I enjoy a variety of mediums when it comes to art, but the two I enjoy a little more are photographs and oil paintings. Photographs can take you back to a memory you long to relive and a gorgeous oil painting can make your wildest dreams take flight on a canvas.
There is a beauty to complex pieces of art as well as beauty in simplicity. Picasso said, “Everything you can imagine is real.” So create it- any way imaginable. Tell a story in the craft, complexity and simplicity of it all.

Bio:
Ashlee Cunningham is a sophomore at Arizona State University pursuing an undergraduate degree in Intermedia Art. She is the Art Editor for Superstition Review and has loved growing her knowledge of art. When she is not in class you can find her capturing life through the lens of her camera.

Ashlee Cunningham, Art Editor for Issue 19 of Superstition Review.
Ashlee Cunningham, Art Editor for Issue 19 of Superstition Review.