Aaron Middle Poet Jackson also contributed to Vwa: Poems for Haiti, a Caper Literary Journal anthology of work.
A) Middlepoet comes from a feeling that I have always had of being in the middle or in between an experience or situation that I am in. My father is African-American and my mother is Caucasian, I think that is where the sense of middleness first began. Since then, I have lived in rural Vermont and the New York City Area, I have gone from metro New York to Los Angeles and back. I was a not so wealthy kid at a very wealthy university and so on and so on, I guess I have always felt in the middle of two different perspectives, whatever those perspectives are.
Q) You were the Poet Laureate of Jersey City, NJ. Tell us about how you were awarded the title and what you did.
A) This was a few years ago, at the time, I was working with a guy named Lex Leonard who was the head of The Waterbug Hotel, which was a motley collection of artists who worked in various mediums while residing in Jersey City. I was the host of the “Bug’s” poetry night. My girlfriend (now wife) was the DJ. We had done a show in Jersey City City Hall and when they asked us to do a second show, Lex suggested they make me the Poet Laureate and they agreed. At this time, I was hosting the open mic for the Waterbug, conducting a writer’s workshop, going into Jersey City high schools to perform and work with the area students on poetry as well as performing any and everywhere I could in Jersey City. It was a blast because we were able to bring attention to the incredible poetic scene that exists in Jersey City, NJ.
Q) Writers are always interested in attaining prestigious awards. You were awarded the UCLA/Pen Fellowship. Tell us what that experience was like.
A) Actually I didn’t win the award, which turned out to be a blessing. I was a semi-finalist, I believe I finished in the top ten but did not win. Had I won, I think my ego would have caused my head to explode. Up until that point I had been on a crazy role, two grants from the Puffin Foundation, Poet Laureate, A National Anti-Smoking Ad Campaign. I needed to be rejected, it forced me to work harder and write more. For a writer rejection is ultimately a recurring theme.
Q) What are some points of advice you have for writers?
A) WRITE! Everyday write something, anything, a haiku, a cool thought, a character sketch, a plot outline, anything. Many people talk about what they are going to write as opposed to writing something.
After writing then submit! Submit to everything, try and get rejected by as many places as possible. Anticipate rejection and be pleasantly surprised if you get accepted.
Q) Tell us about your writing influences and inspirations?
A) I am influenced greatly by the people around me, my wife Lady Jay, my parents who are both published authors. For my performance poetry I look no further than my hometown of Jersey City. Poets like Broken English, Rescue, SkryptD, Christine Goodman, Justin Woo, St. Patrick, Sean V and Just Putt to name but a few.
Q) What's coming up in the life of Middlepoet?
A) Right now, I am promoting my single "I'm Tired" which is available on Itunes and the video is out which I am very proud of. The video is a great view of my town Jersey City. As for the future, the easy answer is that I have no idea. But, to be fair, I hope to bring forth one if not two collections of poems in the next year, I am in the process of finding the right publisher and platform for my collections. Also, stay tuned for a bit of visual Middle. I am working on a follow up single to my track, and, I hope to help expand the United Divas Creative Scholarship. United Divas is a non-profit 501c3 organization that I have the honor of serving as a board member.
Q) What are some of your favorite literary journals?
A) I read “Poetry” and I really dig “Granta”. I find Poets and Writers magazine as well as their website to be enormously valuable resources when looking for publishing opportunities. I also read all kinds of literary blogs for inspiration and education. Finally, the poem a day from poets.org is the truth!
Q) Wild card: tell us something you think every writer and reader should know.
A) I have spent years working in bookstores, and I have learned that if a writer decides to go the self-publishing route it will be incredibly hard to get that book carried in a bookstore. Unless it is a super independent bookstore and the writer is friends with the owner. The best bet is to hold out until the writer can get the best publishing deal possible. People don’t realize that creating the work is only about forty percent of the task. The other sixty percent is getting the work in the hands of people who will enjoy it and hopefully pay for the experience.