Jay Snodgrass is not a canker even though he says he is. He is the author of the fabulous poetry collection Monster Zero, a book I read many centuries ago (in 2003), and The Underflower. Jay is also an awesome dad (see below) of a deranged child (see below) and the wife of poet Kristine Snodgrass who I Potty Mouth interviewed last year. He is an aspiring actor and palaeontologist. (Please note some of the aforementioned may or may not be true or false.) Jay’s writing wonders or wanders among the stars–as all astronauts do–tethered to life with a chain of hope and fury, love and lust. No, Jay is not furry, at least as far as I can tell, but his poetry is furious and bib-melting. It is scorching hot. It reaches the head and the heart, and his heart is bigger than Godzilla. I Potty Mouth interviewed Jay in Saint Augustine, Florida where Huguenot ghost pirates captured him and stowed him a treasure chest. It’s true. Here are the results of that interview.
Almost Dorothy: What is a poem?
Jay Snodgrass: A cataleptic turbine. I hold the engine while you suckle. It usually goes very fast and you can tell right away if it feels good or not by the burning and the oil on your bib.
AD: If one wears a bib, and reads a good poem, I wonder if that means it will burn a hole to the heart. Jay, show us your insides. What makes you a poet?
JS: I am cantankerous by birth like a geode of petrified starfish. No woman is safe!
AD: Men, I assume, are totally safe safe. If you met yourself in the future, at 70 or so, what would you say to yourself about your art, your poetry, life?
JS: You should have moisturized, you cantankerous prune. I only recognize you by your raisinous nub. How can you write with that thing? Also, remember when you thought you were a genius? You so totes were right! (fist bump)
AD: I didn’t know people, especially men, could write with their nubs. When I write with my nub, this comes out “;oejr =”. Where do you live in your poems?
JS: I’m on the left. No, not beside the creepy guy, I am the creepy guy!
AD: What was it like playing both Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leah in The Return of the Magi?
JS: Well, they were destined for each other. My sexual awakening occurred when Leah strangled Jabba with a chain in Return of the Jedi. That was when my autoerotic plastic bag star rose above the manger. Curiously I was never hot for the animals, but the smell in there was like backed owl lard: mystifying and decompositional.
AD: Whoa, that’s really gross. I may call the FBI. Living with a poet must be hard. Living with an equestrian must be even harder. What’s life like in the Snodgrass estate?
JS: The horses are polite for the most part. We have no desire to ride each other, so we have an understanding. The equestrians are really small carnivorous dinosaurs who will periodically screech and claw across my tender consciousness. Which is adorable! Living with a poet is like living with a stick of dynamite. Zesty and nebulous and always sizzling to a suddenly hot end.
AD: Favorite curse word. JS: pump.
AD: Favorite food? JS: Cancer Tranquilizers.
AD: Preferred alternative life form?
JS: Space Chimp or Indiana Jones. I became a school teacher because I wanted to find golden watches in the desert. But I’m also really keen on being involved in a multi-billion dollar technical venture in which all I have to contribute is living and dying.
AD: I just realized that I have no idea what you’re talking about but ma is so turned on right now. Don’t tell your wife. She mind pump you. Who is your favorite poet and which poem of his/hers will you share with me?
JS: My Favorite poet is my wife, Kristine Snodgrass. She makes the days into daisies. My second fav is Denise Duhamel because she had sex with a famous poet. And my third is Bill Knott who writes:
Hair is heaven’s water flowing eerily over us
Often a woman drifts off down her long hair and is lost
AD: Those were safe answers but ma is totally jealous now. I wish I were heaven’s hair. So, is it worth it?
JS: Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. That’s a plastic question. The plastic answer is: also.
AD: Also, what are you working on and will you share an excerpt of something new?
JS: I’m working on a super secret project with aliens and astrophysicists. We’re going in to space to see if poetry can stand the weightlessness. For some reason they have me cutting women’s hair. Its like a dream. Nobody cares if I make mistakes. I wish Jabba were here to see me. (weeps)
AD: I am Jabba’s sister.
JS: Here is a poem from low earth orbit called:
Jenny I Got Your Number (Worldwide Exclusive for Almost Dorothy. That’s right.)
She is raised to break her hydrogen tube,
a shanty browed and numerical aesthete.
She quadruple hangers the bathroom jimmy;
works out a glow in wispy phenols.
She’s a gas, raising droopers from the street
corner, her hips register canopies, raise
tent poles with hand grenades,
She snaps and Mesmer registers
her in wavery charts; earthquake,
colloidal stacks, schismatic.
For the interoffice review she’s publishing
circles, storing winds and bricks
smashing the shop fronts under her eyes.
I’m classic with a bent coin in the slot,
I recall her floating wand
dyed glam. No really,
AD: Wow, balustrades! For you, the future is…
JS: …fomenting crystals. In a kidney, in a landscape. In a landscape in my kidney, either way, pain, release, pain. Some other things. I am trying to be nice. I had a dream where my grandmother told me to be nice. I’m not sure what that means or how I will be able to do that. I will make some bread.
Jay Snodgrass is the author of two books of poems, Monster Zero (elixir press) and The Underflower (Cherry Grove Collections). His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, and Versal, as well as online at McSweeney’s Internet Tendancy, Oranges and Sardines, Ducky, Big Bridge, and others. He has a PhD in English from Florida State and is currently teaching in Bainbridge, Georgia.