Feature Friday: Interview with Beesan Odeh

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Beesan Odeh, a past contributor of Jenny Magazine.

Describe your first publication. Where was it, when, and what was the piece about? How old were you at the time and how did it feel?

My first publication was actually this past fall 2015, a poem in Jenny Magazine titled “The World’s a Stage.” I only recently started submitting work, so it was exciting to see the piece online and have the opportunity to read it at the premiere. The poem is about Elvis Presley. I’ve been a fanatic for over 10 years now. Strange, I know. His life can be divided into three major parts: the 50s rebel, 60s movie star, and 70s Vegas shows, and that’s reflected in Acts I, II, and III of the poem.

What inspired your pieces in the Jenny?

This time, my poem “Wild ‘n Running” was chosen for Jenny (Issue 10). I love Elvis, and I love oldies, rock n’ roll, rockabilly; the greasers, the rebels, James Dean. They all often influence many of the things I do and write. Definitely this poem.

What got you into writing?

I’ve always loved books and stories, but I didn’t start writing until the 7th grade, right after watching and reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time. The story in film and Tolkien’s writing were life changing.

What do you like writing the most? Is there a certain style you prefer?

I enjoy writing fiction the most. I’ve been playing with short stories for a while, but I just took a youth novel class, which presents its own challenges, and I loved working in a larger format, too. I stuck with contemporary realism for the longest time, but I’m experimenting with speculative fiction again. Poetry is always fun, too.

What are your influences? Who are your favorite writers?

J.R.R. Tolkien was my first influence and he’s one of my biggest. The Lord of the Rings was one of those life changing stories for me. I wanted to create those characters. I wanted to tell a story like Tolkien did. Completely different, S. E. Hinton is another one of my favorites, especially The Outsiders. Robert Cormier is up there, too. And I actually take a lot from mangaka Masashi Kishimoto when it comes to certain themes and character development. Bits and pieces from all over.

What’s your proudest moment as an author?

I recently had two poems published in Jenny, but I was also awarded the Robert and Virginia Hare Award for fiction. I’m thrilled and honored to have my writing recognized by the English Department at Youngstown State University.

How has your writing developed over time?

I’ve learned different techniques and have had much practice over the years, but the most important thing is that I’ve found my voice.

Are you currently working on anything?

I took a youth novel class this semester, so I’m going to keep working on that project. I have ideas for a few short stories, if I get the chance to work on them. And I’m always writing poetry.

What’s your writing process?

There’s not much structure to my process. I keep notes all over the house and on my phone; random ideas or bits of dialogue. But when it comes to writing the actual piece, I have to be in the mood. There’s nothing worse than trying to write when I’m just not vibing with it.

What are you currently reading?

Nothing at the moment, but I do want to read S. E. Hinton’s Rumble Fish again. I noticed it on my shelf the other day. I stumbled upon The Song of Achilles, so that’s on my list for this summer, too. I’ll read whatever catches my eye.

Have you ever co-written something with another author? If so, what was that experience like?

Nothing too serious. It was a small project here and there, mostly for fun. I’m a little iffy about working with others sometimes. It depends on the project and the person. I’m not against it, though.

Have you ever worked with a medium other than writing? Or collaborated with someone in another medium with your writing?

I have not, but graphic novels sound so good to me. I’ve always been hesitant, but a few people around me have been dabbling in the art, and a friend of mine mentioned collaborating. It’s something I’d love to try. You never know what you’ll end up with.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

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