Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Jillian Brall

Jillian Brall is co-editor of Lyre Lyre, a poetry and art journal. She's also the first person to ask me to give a reading without me applying for it (and thus introduced me to Abigail Welhouse), which let me tell you, felt extremely special. Her poems have been published in Connotation Press, The Tower Journal, Unshod Quills, Ping Pong Magazine, Ragazine and others, and are forthcoming in Yes, Poetry. She is also a saxophonist and visual artist, currently focused on abstract painting and collage. Some of her work can be viewed at venusspinsbackwards.com.

Jillian Brall


Who are you? A stranger in a strange land.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? I post new poems at zoewo.blogspot.com. My poetry is observational, reflective, filled with questions, and is simultaneously both very heartfelt and very cranial. I often meld real life experiences with the experiences I have in my vivid dreams. I write with concern and with despair and with desire and with prayer. I naturally notice and deliberately draw attention to the interconnectivity of sound and meaning. The musical and linguistic elements of rhythm, rhyme, and sound are never out of my mind when I'm thinking and writing, and, to me, they can not be separated from the meaning, gravity, and depth of words and language.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I started keeping a journal when I was about six years old. It was a combination of a diary where I would house and analyze my thoughts and experiences, record the dreams I had, and where I kept lists and notes. I had pretty severe OCD as a child and felt compelled to write down almost everything that came to mind. Over time, as I got older, I learned to quiet the anxiety. The compulsiveness never really went away, but I gained the control I needed in order to function with less stress. In my pre-teens, I feared that quieting all of this noise might stunt my creative expression, but it really freed me up to focus. In third grade, I had the most amazing teacher, Mrs. Petruny, who gave us abundant and varied writing assignments, including writing poems and stories, in addition to writing descriptive sentences in order to practice grammar and parts of speech. I loved it so much, and I began writing creatively on my own that year and have never stopped. I wrote poems, stories, essays, and even at one point created a newspaper for my family. I've been fortunate to have many excellent English and writing teachers throughout my life who encouraged me to write, and who introduced new concepts, styles, and voices to me. Writing poems and recording my dreams are the main types of writing I've been doing for the past decade or so.

Why do you write? It's my default. It's one of the mediums I feel compelled to use as a means of expression. Poetry enables me to process and articulate my thoughts and feelings in a way that normal conversation does not. And I love language, sounds, etymology. Normal conversation is often like an IV providing fluids to the body, and poetry, in comparison, is like actually drinking a cool glass of water. They both serve the same purpose of communication and conveyance, but poetry does it through different means that are often more experiential. Although, it's a pretty wild experience to be hooked up to an IV, so maybe this analogy is not the best. Plus, normal conversation is peculiar and telling in its own right. Forget the analogy, I'm just going to quote William Burroughs: "Language...an awkward instrument." I enjoy investigating and exploring that awkwardness.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? If you're asking what the inspiration for my poems is, everyone and everything. If you're asking who inspires me to write, it comes from within.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would go to Iceland to see the Aurora Borealis.

What is your favorite place on earth? Somewhere quiet and peaceful where I am looking up at the night sky.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I'm working on getting a show together for my abstract paintings, some of which can be seen on my website, venusspinsbackwards.com. Venus Spins Backwards is the name of my poetry manuscript that I am currently trying to get published. I named the website after it because my paintings and my poetry are very interrelated. I'm also putting together another manuscript of dream stories. Basically, it's flash fiction, although it's not really fiction because I really did have these dreams.

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