Featured Poet Interview: Brendan Joyce
Issue 12's featured artist is Brendan Joyce, author of "Dispatches." Join us as we talk about breathing new life into old work and surviving the whiplash.
Jacqueline Boucher: "Dispatches" is radiant with a circuitous regret—the motifs of cycles and repetition are prominent throughout. Can you speak to your process with creating this poem?
Brendan Joyce: This poem was a collection of scraps, either failed voltas from other poems or failed opening lines. When I was most recently revising my manuscript I’d cut and pasted them into another document just to get them out of the way. I thought about abandoning them all, but when I saw each of them next to each other I kind of liked the disjointedness, especially of going from a stanza at work to a stanza of long term unemployment. A classmate recently (gently) decried my lack of connective phrases in poems, and I have really been (maybe out of spite) leaning into that lately.
JB: Your larger body of work is so powerful, especially in its portrayals of the reality of struggle as a worker under capitalism. How do you see “Dispatches” in the context of the rest of your work?
BJ: That’s very kind. I’m still getting used to Dispatches as its own thing. I see it still as the poems it used to be. So I guess I’ll leave that to other people.
JB: What role does poetry play in trying to survive the hellscape of late-stage capitalism? Not for the collective, just for you.
BJ: I’m not sure it plays a role in survival, though as an artist selling my work can occasionally keep the lights on. More often it’s just a place where I can straighten out some of the contradictions we’ve been barraged with. I think especially in the whiplash of mass unemployment to the full employment push the government is trying to get away with, it was helpful to keep writing.
JB: What are you reading right now that excites you?
BJ: Rosie Stockton’s Permanent Volta, Kay Gabriel’s House of Fame or Kissing Other People, Cecily Chan’s translation of Cheating by Yin Lichuan. I’ve also been reading Weather by Jenny Offill lately for class, which frankly I think is just an extremely anxious book.
Brendan Joyce is a student at Cleveland State, co-organizer of Grieveland Poetry Press and the author of Love & Solidarity and Character Limit. His poems have appeared in Protean Magazine, the Johannesburg Review of Books, the Brooklyn Rail, Prolit, Pandemic Publications and Flypaper Lit.