Summer's in high gear, and so is the 2016 Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship! To kick things off, we interviewed two of our mentees: Jaclyn Grimm (fiction) and Joey Reisberg (poetry). Read on to learn more about these stellar young writers!
The Adroit Journal: Introduce yourselves, if you would, in a rhyming couplet.
Jaclyn Grimm, Fiction Mentee: I only write prose / because my poetry blows.
Joey Reisberg, Poetry Mentee: He came from outer space— / scribbling poems, shoving snacks in his face.
J: Here's a perhaps deceivingly complicated question: why do you write?
JG: Because it’s something I can do in my pajamas. Actually, I’d like to say the reason is something fantastic or inspiring, but it really stems from my desire to control things. Life is unpredictable and chaotic and my writing is a way to make sense of it. Although the pajama thing is pretty great, too.
JR: I write because I feel an urgent need to communicate using the power and beauty of words. I write because my brain gets too busy. I write as therapy and as a way of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I write as discovery, escape, resolution, empathy, riddle, magnifying glass, telescope, retribution, surprise, jigsaw puzzle, confrontation, synthesis, and contradiction. I write because finding an answer to the question “Why do you write?” is so impossibly hard and I never want it to be easy.
AJ: Three writers who have inspired you thus far?
JG: Lorrie Moore, Junot Díaz, and Kevin Wilson. There are so many other writers I adore, but I feel that these three have influenced my work the most.
JR: Emily Dickinson for the wonder and revelation she brings to our world. Mark Doty for his lush, layered language and deep emotion. Frank O’Hara for the exuberance and passion that shine through his poems.
AJ: How did you find out about The Adroit Journal? Often we find hesitance among some of the strongest young writers—what led you to take that leap and first get involved?
JG: One of my best friends told me about The Adroit Prizes and encouraged me to submit a couple of my stories! At that point I knew nothing about Adroit, which was definitely for the best because I doubt I would’ve submitted if I’d realized how talented everyone here is. After I heard I was being recognized, I read just about everything in the journal, absolutely fell in love with it, and wanted to be in the mentorship program more than anything.
JR: An important mentor in my life, Ms. Shirley Brewer (literal poetry goddess), first told me about the mentorship. I got even more excited when I read back issues of The Adroit Journal and saw “bizarre” listed on the “About” page. I had been craving to be part of a community of writers for so long. Meeting other people who are nerds for words has been thrilling and inspiring. So that’s why I dove headfirst into the Wacky World of Adroit.
AJ: Let’s pretend, for a second, we’re on the Bachelor/Bachelorette (this can’t end well). You’ve narrowed it down to your two favorite literary characters—who are they, and which one do you pick?
JG: This can only end well. I’d narrow it down to Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) and Joe Kavalier (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay), although I think I’d end up picking Joe because artists are #nextlevel.
JR: First option is Rochester from Jane Eyre. He’s dark, he’s brooding, and he’s rich. Perfect! Next we have Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Beautiful bisexual prince! He challenges Rochester to a duel, promptly slays him, and then whisks me away to his Dornish vineyard where we eat tropical fruit and watch “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”
AJ: In seven words, describe your most recently penned piece of writing.
JG: Chicken factory needs safety regulations and feminism.
JR: This persona poem gets hella angsty. Wow!
AJ: What’s something you’re interested in besides writing?
JG: Sometimes I like to pretend I’m good at acting even though I’m mostly in it for the pretty costumes. I’m really interested in politics—not in a potential career sort of way, but I think it’s interesting/important to learn about. I also enjoy random dance breaks, watching too much television, and reading crappy novels (along great ones, of course).
JR: I love drag! Big hair, glitter, pounds of makeup, rhinestones, stilettos, lip-syncing to ‘80’s divas. I love the element of rebellion (breaking outside of gender norms) as well as the fun and kitsch and camp of a drag performance.
AJ: And finally, what’s one goal (hopefully there are many!) that you have for your time in the mentorship program?
JG: To stretch my writing ability as far as I can, learn to incorporate feedback into my editing process, and join a community of awesome people/writers. That’s more than one goal, but another goal of mine is to break rules so it seems fitting.
JR: One goal would definitely be to build up a strong body of work that I can start sending out to places. I would also love to keep the connections between fellow writers strong. A support system like this is incredible to have. (I realize that this is two goals but I have a #rebelheart, just like Madonna.)
Jaclyn Grimm lives in Orlando, Florida and is a rising senior at Lake Highland Preparatory School. Her writing has appeared in The Adroit Journal and is forthcoming in decomP and CHEAP POP. She likes using lower case letters way too much and thinks she's funnier than she actually is.
Joey Reisberg studies creative writing at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology, where he is on the editorial staff for the school's literary magazine Synergy. His poetry has been recognized with a Gold Medal from the 2016 National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. He lives near Baltimore, MD with some plants and an adorable schnauzer named Stella.