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James Jackson stands in front of nature

James Jackson is a romantic poet for the modern age. Taking everyday existence and weaving it into gold, he has a grasp of metaphor that is both uncanny and breath-taking. His ability to craft moving short-form poetry is often unmatched and his pieces will always leave you with something to think about.

A Manchester lad, James' work is a natural progression from his beginnings as an avid reader. Taking joy from literature, he channels his own life into his poetry, drawing on personal and deeply intimate moments to craft incredibly relatable work.

Read on for our sit-down interview with James, where you can learn more about his debut chapbook, Pools:

Can you describe your work in five words?

  • Esoteric thoughts and surreal dispositions.


You are relatively new to the scene – what attracted you to poetry and performance?

I originally started as a reader. I'd review books on my Instagram account. From there, I started delving into reviewing indie releases and built up a bit of a contact list. I started out writing articles and short prose but found poetry enabled me to paint in surreal undertones. I link my work a lot with artists like @matthewdarby_ and @darrennisbart who I'm working on projects with, so a lot of what I write is inspired by the way they create works; it's all about interpretation for me. As for performing, I put it off as long as possible tbh, I have bad anxiety for stuff like that! But honestly - I get a huge kick out of it. It's a buzz!



Who are your biggest influences when writing?

Woah, that's a tough one. Gerrard Manly Hopkins writes some stunning stuff, but a lot of my inspiration comes from people who aren't writers per se. I'm heavily inspired by the lyrics and music of Bon Iver, the band has a special meaning to me and I'm drawn to their use of metaphors and creation of words. I take a lot from performance artists like Christopher Lee Burden and avant-garde musicians like John Cage. Anyone who challenges accepted norms and puts the consumer in a position to re-evaluate how they feel about a medium as a whole. For me, all art is in some way connected and I'm interested in the marriage of these relationships; artist-artist, artist-consumer etc... everyone taking a different message away from my work is something that excites me endlessly.


Is there a particular poem in your collection that you are the most proud of?

That's really difficult to say. The collection for me is exactly that - a collection; it's supposed to be consumed as a whole. Like Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, each piece has a role to play but nothing can function out of the whole. I always had a collection in mind with over-arching themes telling a very direct narrative (at least to me, as someone who knows the whole story), so I never really saw any one piece as an individual. The entire collection was written almost in one sitting!

Give us a bit of an insight into the background of your new chapbook. What are the events that led to its creation?

Like any good poet, I initially (and somewhat naively) drew on heartbreak, but the chapbook is much more textured than that. By the time I came to write it, I was contemplating my place in the universe and broader topics - I have conflicts with organised religion, where I find the mythos behind them incredibly interesting but the concept of a higher power difficult to believe in. I write about occultism and alchemy, specifically Ouroboros, a symbol for infinity. I try to contemplate what that actually means. This chapbook is borne out of emotional regret and spiritual isolation.

What’s your favourite bev?

Red wine for me!

Is there a particular audience you write for?

Not really, if anyone saw my unreleased archives, they'd know that for sure! I like to experiment and play; I want to write something for everyone, because I'm so interested in people's interpretations of my work. I write for myself - I find I tap into an energy and I follow it as far down the rabbit hole as I can. Sometimes it doesn't stick, sometimes it does - but if I stay true to me, I'll always have fun at least!


Do you have any big ambitions when it comes to writing? What’s the ultimate plan for James Jackson?

How long have you got? No, in all seriousness, the sky is the limit, its gotta be! I want to launch my own micro-press next year, current circumstances permitting, I'm already in talks with various artists on a project to see art and writing come together. I have tonnes of ideas for zines and other publications of my own and collaboratively and I really want to be a part of a community that nurtures talent. I want to start a spoken-word night in Stockport because we're missing it; we have @chat.back, but a dedicated night for performing would be huge. I'm also working on a new collection which is much larger than Pools which I'm very excited about. And I want to keep working with Bent Key because I love the environment you've created and I want to be a part of this for a long time!


What do you hope anybody reading your work takes away from it?

Whatever they want. Inner peace. Curiosity. Education. Anything!


Finally, what’s your opinion on chips and gravy?

It's mighty fine (and Northern AF)!

Pools is available to purchase now. 

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