STARLIGHT, PHILADELPHIA seeks to cast a glow of starlight around the Philadelphia Poetry Community & its people.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


                                              Ryan Eckes is a keen observer of the whole world.
                                              (photo credit Seth Klinger)

art as experience
by Ryan Eckes

in passing john calls john dewey j-dew, which makes everything infinitely
more watchable. go phillies like a bus, half hours, half flowers, to valu-
plus for flip-flops and a new notebook—marble, like my stoop. i stand
on the book, its title, valu-plus, arrived home on a sticker, yellow, with
a price: a buck, a holler. after that we’re free to have our hazards. love
ages me, but not that two people were murdered a half block from me
this week. the barista lays down a napkin and spoon even when you’re
just getting it to go. front-to-back three years ago a night this november
i tore thru splay anthem while this place was called something else, and
i thought i felt the whole world sail thru a map in my chest, knocked on
wood a lesson: bare hands, bare hands, no lie: you’ll never understand
yourself in isolation. a hair on your selfish city’s chest, you will mistake
selfishness for independence again. again, you will catch yourself being
a republican to yourself. if i’m beaten, who can tell.  not me, anymore.
not me, anymore.

It is difficult to think about Philadelphia poetry without Ryan Eckes’ name coming to the forefront of the mind.  Ryan’s poems are very Philadelphia – I cannot think of many other poets whose poems breathe the charge of the city & its many dimensions the way Ryan’s do.  When I read Ryan’s poems, or am lucky enough to hear him read them, I am mentally transported to places in the city – walking around Philadelphia – being part of its people, its vibrancy, its songs, but also its underbelly.  Ryan’s poems are celebratory, but also not full of the celebrational delusion that so many others have filled into their poetries of place.  His poems have a realistic quality that ignites a reader’s senses, that make one aware of the city’s currents & how they filter through a narrow window, or a tiny moment.  For this reason, I am always blown away when I read one of Ryan’s poems.  They say so much in small increments, and can be read in many directions.

Ryan also contributes much to the community of Philadelphia poetry.  He co-curates (with poet Stan Mir) The Chapter & Verse Reading Series at Chapter House CafĂ© in South Philadelphia, which is one of the best poetry series that I have witnessed since I started attending poetry series over a decade ago.  He brings poets from all over the country to Philadelphia, so we are lucky enough to hear so many amazing poets read thanks to Ryan.

I feel that if you haven’t read the poetry of Ryan Eckes, that you are missing out.  His poems are nothing less than brilliant, heart wrenching, suffocating, & real.  I hope you enjoy this interview with the amazing Ryan Eckes.

Debrah:  Ryan, I am very excited by the twists & turns of "art as experience."  When reading this poem, & when reading your work in general, I definitely feel "the whole world sail thru a map in my chest."  Is this poem part of a larger series?  

Also, in this poem, you reference Nathaniel Mackey's splay anthem.  Were you inspired by Mackey in writing this poem?

Ryan:   Hey Debrah, thanks for inviting me to do this. 

The poem isn't part of a specific series, but it'll be part of my next manuscript, which I'll probably call Valu-Plus, after the store that recently went out of business. "art as experience" was one of the first poems I wrote last fall after I finished writing my last manuscript, and I was trying to sort of regenerate. I wanted to see what would happen if I attempted to write a poem the way I did four, five years earlier, when I wrote mostly prose poems. I would think of them as little motion machines that were also stories, and the process of writing them was both meditation and storytelling, a give and take of making something up as you go. As I wrote I'd try to let one sentence lead me to the next by repeating the sentence in my head and listening for the truest thing about it and pulling something out of it, which would be the next sentence, and I'd keep going like that until I felt that I'd arrived and had some kind of motion machine you could ride when you read it. Hence the twists and turns. The poem turned out different from my older prose poems, of course, because I'm a different person now, but the experience and reward of it was similar.

It's funny you point out that particular phrase, "the whole world sail thru a map in my chest," since that's the phrase I'm least comfortable with, least sure about. It's just that on a purely aesthetic level, I don't know if I like it. But I guess it does its job where it is. I was trying to describe as concretely as possible what I experienced while reading Splay Anthem for the first time, and what I had was some big feeling of endless sadness mixed with possibility, an overwhelming sense of reality, which I called "everything", or "the world", which is a better word, and saw it as a boat, in part because of Mackey's imagery, moving swiftly through the map of water inside me that I imagine's always there, that I won't explain. I felt kind of splayed. I wasn't thinking of Mackey when I started writing the poem--he just came up when I was thinking about a corner I was sitting on, where I'd first read Splay Anthem--but in general, yeah, that book has been inspiring. It's one I've gone back to again and again--there's no end to it. Ever read his preface to that book? It's wonderful. And what a great thing to say, "splay anthem."

Debrah:  I just looked all around my home for my copy of splay anthem.  I really thought I had a copy, but maybe it's just registered in my mind as a book I own because I know I should.  I will have to remedy that!  What is it about the preface to Mackey's splay anthem that you admire the most?

I really enjoy your description of prose poems as "little motion machines."  There is a lot of motion in "art as experience":  "in passing," "go phillies like a bus," "arrived home," "just getting it to go,"  "sail thru a map" ...  So, I definitely get this feeling of moving while reading this piece...  moving in many directions, & in many ways.  The title alone, describing art as an experience, connotes motion to me as experience is a kind of moving through...  Do you feel that prose poetry is an easier poetic vessel through which to deliver the feeling of motion?  How do you designate whether you will write a prose poem versus another form?  Or is it something that just happens?

Ryan: Oh, sorry--I don't mean to make you go rummaging for a reference. I was just rambling a little toward the end of that response. What sticks with me from Mackey's preface is a definition of poetry he borrows from the Kaluli, an indigenous group of people in Papua New Guinea. He describes a funeral song, a ritual and myth about broken kinship, from which poetry and music originate. He suggests that poetry is simultaneously elegiac and restorative, "not only lamenting violated connection but aiming to reestablish connection, as if the entropy that gives rise to [poetry and music] is never to be given the last word." You get that cyclical motion in Mackey's poetry, in the sound as much as the story, the cosmogony.

Since I was a kid I've often felt slowed, or stuck, or static--it's hard to explain—a heaviness on me, as if there were too much gravity, too much of some force pinning me to the floor, which makes me tired. And I think that we live a very static-producing, final-word culture that inhibits exploration and curiosity and human connection in general, so motion has been an important word for me in resisting those forces, and writing and reading has been a way to do that, to feel alive. Prose isn't the only way that works for me. Line-based writing also does the job. The main difference is the unit--when I work in prose the sentence is the unit, and I tend to focus a little more on narrative and a little less on music--but just a little--while the line-based poems are usually made of short lines with quicker turns. What determines if it'll be a prose poem or not is whatever I start with. If it's a pair of lines in my head, I'll just keep writing lines (Ted Greenwald's been a big influence there). I try to get the feeling of motion from anything I'm writing.
Recently, thanks to Conrad, I got interested in the 19th century architect Frank Furness, who built many buildings in Philadelphia. Furness wanted his buildings to convey motion, to exhibit natural elements, to be as alive as possible. I found a fascinating biography called Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind, by Michael J. Lewis, that makes connections between Furness' personal experiences and the designs of his buildings. Here's a snippet of a quote from it from my notebook: "His walls were not so much static murals as living conduits whose underlying physical drama was infinitely more exciting than any color that might be applied to the surface." The book was enough to inspire me to try to break out of my own conventions by writing a poem based primarily on the violence I felt moving through me, and I wound up with an ugly thing that's both prose and verse--the first section is shaped like a tornado, by accident. I had a good time.

Debrah:  Wow, what you reference from Mackey's introduction to splay anthem sounds amazing & important, this notion that poetry is simultaneously elegiac & restorative.  That the "entropy which gives rise to poetry & music is never to be given the last word."  I agree that we do live in this culture that really privileges "the last word."  The last word, is, perhaps, meaningless when dealing with art forms that require, or give off, the feeling of motion -- of release & restoration -- this double function of poetry & song.  Do you think it's important for poems to resist having "last word" resolution?  

I am thus moved to look at the final moments of "art as experience":  "you will mistake selfishness for independence again.  again, you will catch yourself being a republican to yourself.  if i'm beaten, who can tell.  not me, anymore.  not me, anymore."  This repetition that is enacted here -- the repetition of the word "again," as well as the repetition of the poem's final sentiment, "not me, anymore,"  allows for the poem to cycle at its denouement.  What were your intentions with this repetition?  And the political humor in this last bit is also amazing.  Do you think poetry ought to be political at times, or no?

Ryan: Well, I think a writer should always be pushing his own consciousness, and that there's really no end to learning, so I see one poem as just part of a larger motion and when one thing's done I keep digging deeper into the world. I'm not necessarily against a single poem having "closure" or anything like that. When I say "last word" culture, I think of American moneyworship and bossworship, the anti-intellectual murder machine that our corporate media and government happily foster, telling us that the way things are is just the way things are, period, questions and protest are a waste of time, pleasure is more important than thinking and you deserve it, now go ahead and buy your happiness somewhere. I think everyone should be resisting that culture. In general, there is a serious lack of political consciousness in the U.S., so I'm all for any efforts to call attention to injustice. Poetry, music and art are not outside of politics, not immune from it, and because art is emotional, it can be useful for making people think more about "the way things are," and about their connection to everyone with lungs.

I'm someone who tends to build up a lot of political anger and class resentment, so I need to vent sometimes, and poetry helps with that. The idea of "therapeutic" art gets a bad rap (b/c we are strong independent americans!), so what if instead I stick with the word "restorative" like Mackey the academic? I use poetry to restore myself, and to communicate with others, hopefully, in doing so, and even make them laugh! Repetition, lately, works, and I've used that move at the end of a few poems over the last year or so. There was no specific intention there--I felt like I had to say that twice, and it sounded right--not me, anymore, not me, anymore. It's kind of my way of singing, and disappearing into something greater than what I know. 

Debrah:  Ryan, thanks very much for your thoughts on these topics.  For the final question, since this interview is for Starlight, Philadelphia, could you please speak to how the city of Philadelphia has informed your poetry?  Do you think there is anything unique to Philadelphia poetry?   

Ryan: Having lived here my whole life, I imagine I've got nothing but Philadelphia coming out of me most of the time. I doubt I could count all the ways it's informed how I do what I do. To understand it, I've tried to write about the city in many ways, repeating and responding to overheard talk, channeling friends' voices, neighbors' voices, telling their stories, my family's stories, trying to pick up the overlooked, walking songs through the city every day, sitting on a corner or sitting at a window, describing what I see right in front of me, writing letters to dead people, dwelling, dwelling on race and racism, and on violence, on winning and losing, and losing and losing, and love and love. I think I've looked and listened and let it all back out and whatever's in the writing is the city that's done what it's done to me, and you can see that even in the way I'm answering your questions probably. Some day I'd like to write my own paean to place--I'd like to make a poem as great and true to this place as Lorine Niedecker did to Black Hawk Island.

Philadelphia sort of demands that you be part of it, that you contribute to it--it's not the kind of big metropolitan city made for the individual person to live as if the individual were the actual place and the city there simply to do the individual's bidding (that sick capitalist thing). I think anyone who's spent any significant time here knows that. It's a city of resistance and confluence, and that shows up in a lot of the poetry that's written here. If you're a poet, Philly's a real nice place to be--because of its histories, which are often visible, which you can get lost and found in--but also because there are so many writers here--real good ones, too, that you can have real conversations with--I'm very grateful for that. There's a confluence of different poetic traditions among our community that I see as revolving around a shared social consciousness and commitment to a better world.

Debrah:  I think you are doing a very good job of bringing the spirit of Philadelphia into your poetic work, giving a piece of the city to all who read your poems.  Thanks for chatting Ryan!!

Ryan Eckes lives in South Philadelphia. His book Old News will be published this summer by Furniture Press. More of his poetry can be found on his blog,, and in various journals. Along with Stan Mir, he organizes the Chapter & Verse Reading Series.  He works as an adjunct English professor at Temple University and other places. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011


                                                       Jamie Townsend is a beautiful, gentle soul.

by Jamie Townsend

we simply a performance block letter’d
congenital heart defect evangelical mix
tape public shame for grand space budget


lavish rental carmelite cell reading
beating it out excel in maintenance orders
mine division   non-denom no provisionary


danger / danger replicated razor blade or
treaters hells-night watch harvest festival neu-
tered a kind of collective action – removed


blacklight poster lite novelty store variety
tee display pun verse for pop commercial
pressed hands bent milk or beer sloganeering


hanged man as actual event fear the ritual
position of leg cinematic deviance came
rock words   well   a problematic overlap


couldn’t fall for barcode dark-roasted market
worship on hands &   knees keening
the carpet growing stains   not discernable faces 

I met Jamie Townsend three years ago, in the Summer of 2008. Poet Adam Meora, then attending the Naropa Summer Writing Program, called me & said he had just met a poet who was moving to Philadelphia at the end of the summer who was very “brilliant.” Thus, I was excited to meet Jamie, & happy to hear that another young poet was moving to Philadelphia.

Quickly after his move to Philadelphia, Jamie joined The New Philadelphia Poets, & his depth of knowledge regarding poetics & poetries ignited within me a new kind of awareness for minimalism, lyric, juxtaposition & gentleness. While The New Philadelphia Poets “workshop” meetings were still in session, I always looked forward to reading a new poem by Jamie Townsend, for his keen sense of putting surprising words together always pleasantly jarred me as a reader, & inspired my own work. Jamie’s poems are very musical, very fastidious, always hold true to giving something to the reader – his poems are generous.

Beyond the generosity of his poetic craft, Jamie has also contributed greatly to the Philadelphia Poetry Community at large. Recently, he & Nicholas DeBoer have begun the con/crescent reading series, which continually features some of the best poets writing today. Jamie Townsend has extremely good taste, & this is evidenced not only by his own poetry, but in his selection of the poets who read for the con/crescent series.

Every time I am fortunate enough to have a conversation with Jamie Townsend, I always learn something new – about the ways I think of poetry, about politics, about the cosmos. I am fortunate to know him, & I hope you enjoy this interview with Jamie, one of the best poets writing today.

Debrah: Jamie, there are so many lavish juxtapositions of words & phrases in this poem that create quite surprising nuances of meaning. For instance, "heart defect evangelical mix tape," "lavish rental carmelite cell," "danger / danger replicated razor blade." How do these words come together for you in composition? Did you enter the writing of this poem, "Mansions," with an objective, regarding meaning, sound, the layering of tercets? How did you select the three-line stanza as efficacious for this poem's delivery?

Jamie: Hey Debrah. First off, thank you for inviting me to participate in your wonderful new project! I'm honored at the time you've taken to look at my poem in depth, and really inspired by all the work you do in regards to celebrating Philly poetry and supporting fellow writers.

MANSIONS came together as a series of little discrete events that seemed to have correspondence with each other. I think the thematic elements and the prosody are tied together because I was approaching this poem as a way to explore the space of, in part, my own history growing up in an evangelical community and the limitations those formative years imposed on my experience of the world. That being said, I didn't want to write a strictly confessional piece, but instead to use elements of confessional writing in combination with a particular scaffolding of form and rhythm to facilitate these sonic and visual elements in the poem. I think my goal was to offer a dynamic experience for the reader, a place to engage in levels of "meaning-making" or resonance. I wanted to write something that was a feeling-out of certain sensations, of being blocked or stunted, pressed into a strict lineation for living (I think feelings that most everyone has had at some point) -- and simultaneously present a sort-of release from these feelings within the structure of the poem itself. MANSIONS has marks of traditional meter but plays with torque, connection and disconnection, both across lines and within them to resist a straightforward, closed reading. I want people to be able to pick up on places where groupings of words seem to be saying something specific to them, and then feel the shift as the poem expands or moves on to another grouping; what comes before and after linking up but vacillating sense. It's like looking at something closely and then backing away to see all the other elements connected to, and in play with, that limited, detailed view.

Since this piece developed around my own thinking about issues of religion, branding, and personal development the form just seems to occur organically. The tercets just came out as I was writing, but looking back on it now I think that it was kind of an example of Robert Creeley's "form as never more than an extension of content", yet I feel like here the form deepens and extends the content, at least in retrospect. It allows the reader to parse a line for "meaning" or an "experience" or whatever and then to go back and read the line again, and hopefully have a new feeling, a new sense of words clicking, swinging together, or extending an impression. The tercets create a tension; three is not a round number so we are not dealing with pairs or lines that create an immediate dialectic response to each other. There is something extra, something that extends out. Three is also a very important number in Christianity, as a representation of the nature of God - "God in three persons" - the Trinity. I've always thought it was very interesting, and telling, that in the evangelical community, at least as I experienced it, there is a lot of self-possessed surety, compartmentalizing, completion in belief, yet the being of God as expressed in three parts is an open form, it cannot be reduced to an easy equation for living. No equal division means endless possibilities.

Debrah: Jamie, I am notably interested in your delineation that three is not a round number; thus, it presents no dialectic. Instead, you say, it gives us "something extra, something that extends out." This you also link to the notion of the Christian Trinity, a concept which also reasonably presents no stagnant dialectic. Would you say, then, that this conceptualization of "3" gives us a sort of synthesis? Could we look at the third lines of each stanza as presenting that "release" that you speak of? I am moved to look at the last words in each stanza: budget, provisionary, removed, sloganeering, overlap, faces. Out of these six, three of them provide us with a kind of negation -- "non-demon no provisionary," "a kind of collective action -- removed," "not discernable faces." Is this negation a release from something?

Jamie: I would definitely say that while "3" works itself into the prosody of MANSIONS and has connections to its themes and subjects, it is not necessarily a qualitative element of the poem, at least not by any premeditated design on my part. I guess that I felt, quite naturally, the third lines in the poem, as the end lines of each stanza, would have to function uniquely in that space of "closure" (at least visual closure) -- as the ending of each stanza/section. I'm interested in this space of ending or "closure", mostly because it's presented difficulty for me technically (as often my approach to writing leads me down paths of thought I don't necessarily want to or know how to end), while at the same time providing a field for thinking about what a poem can do in this places where the form or thought gets "wrapped-up". What are the politics of the prosodic closure? How do you end a poem or a section of a poem in a way that doesn't impose upon the reader a tidy resolution? I think about this a lot -- and maybe it’s my way of facilitating overlapping questions of form, content, intent, perspective, readership, etc. I am interested in the potentiality within a poem, the openness it may have to many readings that could possibly be wildly different, and how any of those readings can be equally "correct" (or equally "incorrect" for that matter). I think I try to structure my poems in a way that encourages this sort of open-endedness, and involved readership, and in that way the tercets seem to work well (maybe it’s the three voices at play in the poem as well -- me, the reader, and the poem itself -- in dialogue). In English-language versions of haiku poetry the three line structure is predominantly used, and one of the goals of haiku is a nice balance between clarity and opacity -- I strive for that as well.

As far as negation in the poem, that may just be subconsciously coming from my own desire to avoid the whole mess of definition at the end of stanzas and the end of the poem as a whole; I hope the negation isn't just an "easy out" like that, but more so how the cards fell as the sections were put together (It probably says something more about what I think in regards to half-glasses of water). It's funny though, you typed "non-demon" when it’s actually "non-denom" (evangelical-speak for "non-denominational" -- sort of moderate-conservative yet officially unaffiliated Protestant churches") in the poem. I like this transposition quite a bit, as it has a sense of the both the original term and my own play with the lingo. Denominations as hierarchical, as powers to be negated by a ridiculous vague label that is, in essence, a denomination itself, with its own set of religious interpolations, customs and obsessions. Kind of a proxy, at least in terms of semantics, to "post-modern." I guess I would usually rather have these things be "demonic" or "denomic" than in that strange space of definition by proxy. "Let your yes be yes and your no be no" as it were. But great that the terms themselves can be open to interpretation, mutation, play (and any various wonderful typos that can happen).

I think that this also has something to do with power. I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea of power in language, how we've moved away from a larger cultural discourse that takes up questions of opacity and clarity in terms of the language of mass media, government, religious leaders, etc. It’s an interesting tension that I am trying to think about in these pieces as well, mostly as I attempt to create open spaces for reading, open-ended structures, while still keeping an ear to the ground. I think most individuals in positions of any type of authority today consistently use methods of linguistic obfuscation to confuse, to render placid, citizens who would otherwise have a very real problem with the bare facts about illegal wars, hate speech, avoidable natural disasters, sexual abuse. On the Daily Show the other day Jon Stewart, in conversation with Bill Moyers, was discussing an interview he had conducted with Donald Rumsfeld. Stewart asked Rumsfeld about "selling the Iraq War" to the American public, and Rumsfeld immediately corrected him saying "not sold, presented". I don't know if I found a steady balance between keeping language open but still maintaining a clear difference between "sold" and "presented", but it’s something at play here in this piece, and something I keep returning to.

Debrah: The politics of sworn words & illegal testimonies seem like legerdemain. I like how your poems never seem to swear testimonies or provide the reader with, as you say, "tidy resolution."

In my reading of "Mansions," I notice the swelling of popular culture words -- "mix tape," "blacklight poster," "novelty store variety tee display," "pun verse for pop commercial," "milk or beer sloganeering," "barcode," "dark-roasted market." Does this poem make any statements about consumer culture? Also, the title "Mansions" bespeaks of residences for the wealthy. Should one pay attention to any notions of social class when reading this poem?

Jamie: Popular culture words occupy this really interesting space in relation to religious terms or ideas, and this is something I was definitely exploiting in this piece. So much of popular culture is about "branding"; scoring an idea into the mind with a strong, suggestive force. It's no wonder that religious subcultures often employ modes of branding, whether it be in the repetitive use of loaded and often ill-defined terms ("discipleship", "evangelizing", "ministry") or the "Christianizing" of pop culture commodities and youth cultures (Christian rock music, bible-verse quoting graphic tees, WWJB bracelets). This is all about exercising power through rhetorical gesture, as well as opacity and its place within these cultures of control. In many ways I am fascinated by and drawn to the idea of having a purely emotional resonance with a term wardrobed in a sense of mystery - the thrall of bare language, experiencing an immediacy of sound. However, this hypnotic, alien element of communication has become one of the main tools of advertising, and thus is connected to some of the most troubling aspects of our capital driven society. So it's all a balance (and often an uneven one). I think MANSIONS (the title I cribbed from a verse in the Bible I often heard referenced growing up: "In my Father's house there are many mansions" (John 14:2 KJB) - which gives this idea of heaven as a sort of gated community where a chosen few will live in luxury) explores the connection between these two ways of perceiving language, as well as with the inherent political implications of any opaque, "open" text.

Religion and pop culture are intimately connected, though they often propose to be at odds with each other. I'm interested in how they both make use of language similarly. What do we wish for, and how are those wishes veiled (often thinly) or made manifest through semantics? What do we need, and what are we told that we need? (and how do these things often bleed into each other?) Poetry serves an important function here, to bring words back into an experiential space that can be personally and socially generative instead of depletive. When looking at issues around social and economic class distinctions, which I think are always in the poem based on the conditions through which it is created (though not always addressed thematically), it’s really important to understand the ways in which these delineations get created and enforced. Much of the inequality in our culture comes directly from, and is continually fostered by, language: racial slurs, socio-economic derogatory terms like "welfare queen", religiously charged hate speech; these are linguistic and ideological frameworks that we construct, with materials that are often unconsidered and largely the product of our particular cultural legacy. When something is a "term" it has a predetermined span of time, a shelf-life; it is fixed in place by its perceived limitations. This is how language has been stunted and weaponized, by being enforced as "terminology". Returning focus to language's sense of playfulness, to its ongoing associative morphology and restless energy, can help, I think (I hope), break apart some of the barriers that concretizing rhetoric has set in place.

Debrah: Thank you, Jamie, for these insights. I am indebted to your thoughts on these things for it does seem that even notions of afterlife have ghettos for the unholy, like purgatory, hell, limbo. Heaven is for the upper-crust, if it is composed of mansions.

Since this interview is for Starlight, Philadelphia, I would like to close by asking you about how you find the city of Philadelphia to be an inspiration for your poems. Do you find it as such? Does the city & its pulse enter your composition of "Mansions?" Do you feel like your poetry has changed as a result of being in Philadelphia?

I think the eclecticism of Philadelphia has definitely opened up new perspectives in my writing. The city is this interesting hodgepodge of old and new, which coincides with the mixture of archaic/religious and popular culture language used throughout the poem (sort of like Old City abutting South St.). Living in Philly, as a writer, has afforded me a lot of opportunities to work with people who are passionate about where they live -- which, in turn, has helped me realize the importance of specificity in writing, of being connected to a place and the unique conditions that locale generates. Philly has helped ground my poetry in real things, and has helped me focus on the importance of writing as a social act, not just an aesthetic one. I want to give all credit due to the amazing, diverse, welcoming writing community in Philadelphia for adopting me 3 years ago. You were one of the first writers I met in Philly, and it’s amazing to look back at the time I've spent here, in part, through this discussion. Thanks again Debrah, it's always a pleasure to chat!

Debrah: & thanks for this interview, Jamie. It’s a blessing for all of us here that you decided to move to Philadelphia three years ago.

Jamie Townsend lives in East Kensington, Philadelphia, where he is organizer of the c / c reading series, & co-founder of con / crescent, a chapbook publisher & magazine focused on discursive essay / creative non-fiction. He is author of the chapbooks STRAP/HALO (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs; 2011) & Matryoshka (LRL Textile Editions; 2011). His poetry & critical work has appeared in various publications, including The Cultural Society, Gam, Wheelhouse, Volt, Elective Affinities, Jacket2, The Poetry Project Newsletter, & Try.