Contributor Spotlight: Jeremy Voigt

headshot of Jeremy Voigt

Jeremy Voigt’s poem To my Goddaughter is part of Issue 77 of Bellingham Review

What would you like to share with our readers about the work you contributed to the Bellingham Review?

The poem “To My Goddaughter,” was written for the birth of one of my oldest friend’s first child. I struggled with the form a great deal, and then one day re-reading Amy Gerstler’s great book, Dearest Creature, I read her poem “For My Niece Sydney, Age 6” and realized the rambling epistle form was what I needed. The form allows for multiple threads of thought to weave in and out, for the gaze to move towards the exterior and the interior in useful ways. It came together quickly after I figured out that problem. Most of the content was already there, it just needed the form. As is often the way. I do find many of my poems, for better or worse, come out of other poems. I think that is part of the deal.

Tell us about your writing life.

I subscribe to the William Stafford answer here: When did everyone else stop writing? I have been interested in poems since I could read and found the collected Yeats on my parents’ bookshelf. I’ve always wanted to make those sounds, just like a musician tries to sing back to the music that first caught their ear. I’ve kept writing because I don’t know a better way to regularly orient myself to the world. It realigns the cells and makes the world manageable. I’ve evolved as a writer by allowing my environment to seep in as it needs and to not question it. I resisted certain things for a long time (poems focused on nature) and now I’m primarily interested in finding any good poem. I’ve also evolved simply because I’ve aged and see the world in more complex and rounded ways.

Which non-writing aspect(s) of your life most influences your writing?

Reading. Running. Talking to people who see the world differently than I do. I love art—paintings and photography.

What writing advice has stayed with you?

Liam Rector told me once, “Your only job is the next line.” It gives one something to focus on.

What is your favorite book (or essay, poem, short story)? Favorite writers?

This will change every week, but a steady influence and inspiration is Door into the Dark by Seamus Heaney.

What are you reading right now?

I am re-reading Lines of Defense by Stephen Dunn and The Road to Emmaus by Spencer Reece.

What project(s) are you working on now, or next?

I’m finishing a second collection of poems, starting a new collection, and trying to polish some prose about teaching I hope to finish by year’s end.

Anything else our readers might want to know about you?

I don’t know, I’m of the Emily Dickinson model: write early in the morning (3am!) and then live the domestic life (teaching, parenting).

Where can our readers connect with you online?

JEREMY VOIGT‘s poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Post Road, Willow Springs, Fifth Wednesday Journal, BPJ, and other magazines. His chapbook, Neither Rising nor Falling, was featured on The Writer’s Almanac. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by judge Robert Wrigley, and his manuscript, Estuary, has been a semi-finalist for the Dorset Prize, The Crab Orchard first book prize, and the Miller Williams prize. He lives, writes, reads, parents, runs, in Bellingham, and teaches or has taught at Burlington-Edison high school, Whatcom Community College, Skagit Valley College, and Wenatchee Valley College.

Featured Image: “flight-in-paint” by Drew Card