Poem Brut Interview #1 : Jefferson Hansen interviewed by Michael Jacobson
Find 100 Hybrids here http://postasemicpress.blogspot.com/2018/07/100-hybrids-by-jefferson-hansen-is-now.html
MJ: Give me a little background on your personal, educational, and literary history.
JH: I was born in Sturgeon Bay, WI and grew up in Green Bay. I was educated at Beloit College and SUNY-Buffalo, where I had the privilege of working with Robert Creeley and Charles Bernstein. As far as my literary history goes, I’ve published some chapbooks and books of poetry and fiction. They are mostly of an experimental bent. Over the last six years, I’ve become very interested in asemic writing. There’s something both primal and futuristic about it, sometimes in the same set of glyphs.
MJ: When did you decide to become a writer?
JH: I started writing when I was 14. I wrote a poem. Then I realized if I wanted to write, I needed to read. So I started reading poetry. I checked books out of the library.
MJ: What is your point of view on asemic writing as someone who creates and reads the work of other asemic scribes?
JH: I am blown away by the artistry of some of its practitioners. Some asemic writers have a wild and intense visual ability. More particularly, I’m interested in the way reading asemic writing is, in some sense, ahistorical because the symbols a reader considers are wholly new and without a history of meaning. It creates a vivid and particular experience with each glyph and set of glyphs. And the asemic writers are so varied in their styles and approaches. It’s a fun field to watch grow.
MJ: You have a new book out that I published in my Post-Asemic Press series. Can you describe what 100 Hybrids is about and your process in its creation?
JH: 100 Hybrids presents a new, I think, form that uses both poetry and asemic writing on the same page. The poetry and asemic writing are, depending on the individual piece, in counterpoint, in ironic or comic juxtaposition, or in tension with each other. My process of creation was to first work through several drafts of the poem and then print the finished product on an inkjet printer using “chalkboard” font in Word. Then I used pencil to lay out a pattern around or beside the poem that I could fill in with asemic “symbols.” I laid out a pattern that would seem to dance, or house glyphs, or work against the grain of the poem. I worked out some asemic glyphs on a separate paper. When I got the ones I wanted, I placed them around and beside the poetry. The effect, I hope, is to have the asemic writing and the poetry in a dialogue with each other, even if the dialogue clacks and clatters sometimes.
MJ: What kind of books do you like to read and write? Literary? Experimental?
JH: Besides poetry and asemia, I like to read philosophy, history, fiction, and current events. When it comes to literature, I prefer experimental or historically important works. I write mostly poetry, fiction, and asemia.
MJ: You have 2 books published by BlazeVox: Cruelty, & And Beefheart Saved Craig. Can you tell me more about them?
JH: And beefheart saved craig is a novel about characters who live on the same street in a small Wisconsin city. It experiments with fonts and text boxes. The writing is at a variety of angles. I did this so that both I and the readers could explore all the various forces forming and impinging on the lives of these people. It is a little raw in its depictions of these characters. Cruelty is a collection of short stories that deal with cruelty and indifference in various ways. The stories are often something like magical realism, and they are full of what I hope are wild and unexpected plot shifts. I also hope that some of them are funny.
MJ: What are you working on now?
Right now I am working on a multigenre work of essay/fictions, essays, straight fictions, and poetry. It is concerned with the energies outside language that animate the system of language — the pulsations and melodies and tones and even babbling that allows language to perform. It is also concerned with legal language and how it often tries to dry up these animating energies in the name of explicitness. It also deals with disabilities and the law and fascism’s relationship to language.
MJ: What do you think of the local literary scene in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA?
JH: It’s good. I know you and a number of other interesting writers and asemic scribes such as Tom Cassidy, Terrence Folz, and Lenora Drowns. I do, unfortunately, feel like it is not as open to experimentation, such as asemic writing, as are other places. I think there is a limited and limiting notion of what writing is and can be. I wished it were more open to the new.
MJ: When do you want to get a beer again?
Jefferson Hansen lives in Minneapolis and is the author of the selected poems Jazz Forms,
work is 100 Hybrids.