Monday, October 18, 2021

Halloween Sans Horror

Everyone starts digging out their horror movies and novels on October 1st. "It's spooky season!" people say. As a fan of all things horror and Halloween, it should be a zombie (no-brainer) for me to get my scare on. But, I refuse to engage in horror on Halloween.

Horror movies and novels come out year-round... even during Christmas week! Though new horror media is more commonly released in October, it isn't like we don't have it any other time. Even scary video games aren't too difficult to find with store updates and digital content. Horror isn't rare.

Halloween, on the other hand, is sacred to me. It's a time of nostalgia and magic most people reserve for winter holidays. I watch shows from when I was a child. I engage in solitary spiritual practices specifically for the holiday.

"Don't you write and post horror poetry around Halloween?" someone asked me once. Yes, I do. A lot of literary magazines request horror work around this time of year, and it makes sense for me to submit to them; I write horror poetry most of the year, though. I also post horror work on social media because, regardless of what I believe, most people like horror this time of year. Just because I don't agree with horror in October for me, doesn't mean it's wrong for others.

Do you like horror for Halloween, or would you rather it be fun and light?

Monday, October 4, 2021

Best of the Net Anthology (and More)

My poem "Thoracotomy in Eden" was nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology! This is the first time an editor has sent one of my pieces for consideration. It's quite a personal poem for me because I underwent the procedure prior to being diagnosed with Hodgkin's. 

The next scan to make certain I'm still in remission is on Friday, so the timing of the nomination is oddly appropriate.
Other things:

If you missed it, Thimble Literary Magazine published my poem "How We Grow Up". 

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I have a few holiday-themed posts planned this month for my Instagram (mainly cards). If you want to see them, please make sure to follow me @jenruthjackson! Plus, there's always poetry.

I know it's only October, but I'm wondering what you think of me doing another 12 Days of Christmas (Movies) this year. Did you like it last year? Is there something else you want to see? Let me know!

Monday, September 20, 2021

Nothing Lasts Forever & My Work is the Same

 Nothing lasts forever, so why bother creating anything?

1. When people say "nothing lasts forever", it's both a promise and a threat. Good times fade, so you should hang onto them. Bad times don't stick around, and you can be certain better days will find you. Create to remember the good and make sense of the bad.

2. Some people think it's quite freeing. If your mistakes won't make it into the history books, it means you're able to take greater risks without considering the permanence and scrutiny. Why not attempt to fly?

3. Light spreads. If you've ever been to a candle ceremony, you will remember the way the fire spreads from each person until tiny flames flood the space. We are like that: A tiny light spreading to others. But, our lights don't just spread around us... they can leap into the future. Who inspired Leonardo Da Vinci when he was a child? Who instilled the trait of encouragement in that person? Even the dead endure beyond trace memory. We go onward with our intangible, whimsical beauty.

My work is the same as everyone else's.

1. The best writers and artists on this planet are included in "everyone else". Stephen King is someone else. Mary Oliver is someone else. Every person you hold up as a hero or god of the craft is literally part of everyone. As are you. If we're all in the mosh pit, we have great company.

2. If you mean you're just like the "unknown" people, the next wave of famous people come from the current pool of unknown artists. You are literally where "future greatness" is made. You are to the left of the spotlight with the folks poised to change the world. Not bad!

3. If you mean your art just isn't "good", quality is subjective in art. We have a bunch of genres and art types because a lot of readers/buyers want different experiences! Uniqueness will come in time as you strengthen your craft, so being "derivative" (or the fear of it) shouldn't factor in as you progress.

I hope this takes two excuses out of the myriad of negativity plaguing my fellow creatives. Onward, ever onward! 

Sunday, September 5, 2021

A Difficult Decision

When this year began, I had two chapbooks under contract. Then, I found out my chapbook Blighted Feast wasn't coming into the world. No one really publishes horror poetry collections, so I have to publish it myself or let it go entirely. No one is at fault.

On December 11th of 2018, my chapbook Body: Blessed & Bitter was accepted by a press I admire. Their books are gorgeous. The editor gets amazing press and seems sweet. I thought I hit the lottery. It's now the last third of 2021, and I pulled my chapbook on Saturday. No work was even started on it.

I told the editor that I want to see if I can make the chapbook into a full collection because other small collections of mine have similar themes. As long as the editor wasn't moving on my work... why not? I understand my chemotherapy took me out for a few months in 2019 (and COVID messed up a lot for people in 2020), but poets had chapbooks published that were accepted far after mine. 

The reports on Yelp, Twitter, and the Better Business Bureau also aided in my decision. I didn't want people to not receive the copies they paid for, even if it was a rare occurrence. Some of the same reasons I was given as to why my book wasn't published were some of the same I saw listed on complaints. I didn't tell the editor/publisher of my concerns, but the reports contributed to my decision. Poets (like me) are also sometimes kept in publication purgatory. 

I feel so dejected now. My career is a joke. I waited so long to publish more than "just" individual poems in literary magazines (though I still celebrate each one). If my chapbook would've come out when it was first, second, or third said to be slated... my mom would've been able to hold a copy in her hands.

Maybe my full-length collection will bear fruit in another couple of years, but I don't hold out much hope for it...

Monday, August 23, 2021

Objective Measure of Creativity?

Scientists came out with a test to determine how creative you are! It's relatively easy and doesn't have to be administered by humans. "Our task measures only a sliver of one type of creativity," says psychologist Jay Olson, from Harvard University (who then defends the use of this tool). But, the article/project fails to reckon with a few things about this "useful determination".

1. Disability can prohibit access to language in a way that leaves one without a plethora of words (or proper spelling). Site's disclaimer/confirmation: "Like any verbal creativity measure, it partly measures creativity and partly measures verbal ability." The disability community simply isn't thought of (shock). I suppose crips are less "creative" by default! Does this task even bother to pass website accessibility for visually-impaired folks? Their FAQ page doesn't say.

2. The algorithm might value longer words, words of certain origins, or misinterpret altogether. They say the test excludes certain words to keep scores from artificial inflation because it's fairly easy to trick (something that might indicate the system isn't sound). They are also still working on testing it with other languages.

3. Lack of a proper education can factor in. Misspelling or lacking vocabulary aren't always the fault of "lazy" students. People who went to better schools or are more educated might have a better shot at this measure of "creativity". The inventors say the algorithm only takes seven out of ten words due to possible errors, but that statement still doesn't address educational limitations fully. It's a good thing several creativity tests are normally taken at once to get a bigger picture.

4. The task is supposed to be timed at four minutes... regardless of someone's anxiety. To be fair, that's a difficulty with any timed test, but it's still important to note anyone anxious when timed might not score as high.


I dislike when people think they can put a score on something so diverse. It's like a Buzzfeed quiz on which romance character you'd be. But, schools and companies utilize tools like these to decide who is worthy/gifted enough to be promoted, moved to "TAG programs", or given extra responsibilities. Just like personality tests, these measurements should be for personal insight only (and not taken as gospel). Anything else is asking for repeated errors and glaring fallacies that can put people in positions they aren't suited for or even actively hate. Not the most creative approach.

Monday, August 9, 2021

The Truth About Our King (Poem Circa 2012)

Our king loves your softness
His royal, unfurled carpet
Boots plunking around each inch
Cushioning his feet
Your music pleases him
Percussion of metallic coins
In tax bags as sweet
As your hungry children crying
Shrill notes as the carriage passes
Our king acknowledges your sacrifice
Your young men falling
Like rain from waged war
Soon, your ladies will follow them
Your fear sustains him
His golden throne built upon
The ground your noses touch
Like pecking birds
Loyalty is negotiable
Obedience is not 
Hail your king!

I found this in an old document a couple of months ago. I remember trying to write a free-verse heraldic ode with this but failing... it must have something to do with my dislike of aristocracy.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Disability Pride Month

"Disability isn't something to be proud of." I hear multiple variations of this sentiment by able-bodied folks every July. But, instead of a declaration, they should be asking: "Why are you proud?" 
Disability pride isn't about loving all aspects of life and your disability(ies). Few people (disabled or not) enjoy every last piece of their existence. Some people would even cure their disabilities if possible. So, what is it? Well, it varies!

We celebrate our survival in a world not set up for us or even accepting of us.

We luxuriate in our ingenuity and the inventions we contribute. For example, a lot of folks were able to work from home during the pandemic because we created varied ways of being in the workforce and/or pushed for those accomodations.

We use July as a platform to make our inequalities more visible. We are penalized for getting married, can still be paid sub-minimum wages, still can't access community spaces in many places even though the ADA is law, get our children taken away because we're assumed to be lousy parents, are denied space on transplant lists, caretakers can kill us and be sympathized with instead of punished, etc.

We connect with our community. So many of us are isolated from other crips. It's a time more of us make ourselves known and seek out others. 

We take opportunities given to us to participate in things not open to us otherwise: Publications suddenly become more inclusive around July, a few more speaking engagements open up specifically for disabled presenters, and companies renew their commitment to hire us. Of course, most of this vanishes by August 1st, but we have to take what we can in a society happy to build grand structures with no elevators.