Dreaming in Darkness by Jessica Kristie Poetry Book Cover
Order the Book -> Dreaming in Darkness

Your poetry feels very emotion-driven. It seems you’re drawing from your personal experiences of love and conflict. Is it fair to say that you’re looking within when you write? What effect does probing the self have on your work?

I absolutely look within when I write, but my work is not always about my direct experience. Many of the pieces are about my own reflective point of view, but some are just me sympathetically putting myself in another’s footsteps. I am inspired by other’s stories and emotions. I have always prided myself on my ability to completely step inside another, even if just for a brief moment. It’s a learning experience, and often a painful one. This is also true for my own self examination. Reliving my own emotions isn’t always pleasant but it is always healing. I write with honesty and I think that has a very positive effect on my work.

Often, you describe a conflict or a competition in your poetry. You demonstrate two sides to the story, and it feels like one of the sides is you. What is on the other side? What things spark conflict in your heart?

I am very taken by the human condition. Every emotion sparks an interest to me. I force myself to feel both sides, pick them apart, and find understanding. Usually any conflict I allow myself to be in is temporary, but it only takes a fleeting moment to be able to capitalize on that with my words. On many other occasions the conflict lies with an outside source. I have temporarily stepped into roles for the sake of portraying another side to a story. Stories I might not of actually been involved with myself.
My inspiration can come from anywhere. I have learned not to narrow my sources as I have discovered beauty in so many unexpected things.

In my own philosophical contemplations and writings, I tend to think about the big picture, and often get bogged down when I can’t connect the dots between my true intentions as a writer, and my vision for the purpose of my work. Do you see a purpose behind your work? What is the raison d’etre for the poetry of Jessica Kristie?

My purpose is both selfish and honest. I write to release my emotions and to create understanding, but I share because I want others to know they are not alone. When hurt is deep and emotions run strong, people tend to feel isolated with that intensity. I want others to know that everything from rage to desperation is normal and can be overcome. My writing can be dark, or can relay a deep sense of sadness, but overall I try to encourage a light beyond what our immediate reactions may have us feel. For myself and for others – my message is forgiveness and understanding. Those inevitably lead to an inner peace.

The foreword to your book was a very well-written tidbit by someone named Sarafina Bianco. She calls you her angel. Why do you call her your ‘soul-sister’?

I met Sarafina after reading her heartbreakingly intense blog. She is an abuse survivor and a beautifully strong woman. I contacted her and we immediately connected on a true emotional level. She touched my soul with her story and I apparently had good timing with my words. From then on I referred to her as my “Soul Sister”. http://future4fina.com/

I love when poets inject a musicality into their work, and choose words that manage to clearly get across strong feeling without explicit literal meaning. You do a bit of this in Dreaming in Darkness. Can you elaborate on your process for choosing words?

I have been told on several occasions my work could be lyrics.

Believe it or not I don’t spend too much time picking apart my original work or battling with myself over words. I really try to let my heart speak, and with that I tend to get a better outcome. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in editing. I always go back through my work several times – and over many days, so I have fresh eyes. What I won’t do is sit and analyze too much or I would never finish anything.

With most of my work I write on a more metaphorical or open-ended way. I do this intentionally because I don’t want to always inject purpose into something that someone could find their own connection to. People connect with my work because they find personal meaning. I think it is important to tell a story but at the same time make it so anyone can make it their own.

The theme of religion creeps up more than once in this work. What are your religious beliefs and background? How does this affect your writing?

I was born and raised in the Christian Church. Mostly non-denominational and Bible based. I have found many wonderful people in this environment but I have also seen that the worst hypocrites like to hide in the realm of the Church. I have a deep faith that has always been important to me. I never claim perfection or being without my own jaded past, but one of my biggest frustrations is seeing those who claim to be of the faith turn to hatred, racism and hurtful ways. Those are the people that give Christianity a bad name. I believe you should respect and love everyone no matter their race or sexual preference. Those who feel like they are in a place to judge others for these things definitely make me emotionally charged. When I am emotionally charged, I write.

Why do you write poetry?

I write to find peace with my emotions. To find healing for myself and for others. To be able to look at the world differently. My words have come out as poetry since I was ten years old. It was my original form of writing and something I will always come back to. It has become easy for me to express myself in poetic form, and get out what I need to in those short and intense bursts.

Your bio expresses that you have a strong desire to make the world a better place. Earnest expressions of this type of ambitiousness are very inspiring to me. What needs to be changed in order to make the world a better place? What, if anything, do you imagine you might personally have the power to change?

There is too much division and not enough inspiration. Everything is a contest and too many of us feel like we are in survival mode so we shut everyone out. I can only hope that I can take baby steps to help bring healing to others, and then encourage them to pass that renewed strength along. I am a strong believer in community and know that we cannot go through this life alone. We need each other for the little things just as much as for the big ones. I believe we can find strength in ourselves and our faith, but we can also find strength in each other.

Have you anything new in the works? What are you career ambitions as a writer?

I am putting the finishing touches on my new book, which is all prose poetry. Similar to the last several pieces in my current title Dreaming in Darkness. This book is focused and tells a more complete story. I am excited to start querying for publishers next month. I am also in the beginning stages of my first novel, which I hope to have finished by the end of the year. There are several other projects I am working on, including heading up the Writing Room for ArtPlatform.org and organizing their first book, Inspiration Speaks. Submissions are now open to contribute to this project through part of May and might be extended (check http://www.artplatform.org/writing-room-submissions.aspx for complete guidelines). I encourage writers to check it out as it will benefit charity as well as extend your publishing credits.

My primary ambition is to be respected as an author, writer and a poet, and with only that be able to put food on the table.

Jessica Kristie