Friday Feature: Interview with Ace Boggess

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 Ace Boggess, 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?

1991. I was 19. I had a short poem published in a little Canadian horror magazine called Lost. It was photocopied, black and white, saddle-stapled. I doubt anyone saw it, but it was all excitement for me.

What inspired your pieces in the Jenny?

With “Where Does the Night Lead?” the question itself was the inspiration. For more than a decade now I’ve been writing these poems based on questions I mine from any possible source. Answering them as verse takes me on journeys that I can’t anticipate.

The inspiration for “Montana” was a bit different. I wanted to write about a mythical paradise, and I chose Montana (a state to which I’ve not traveled) because, well, a couple of things in the poem are true. Or, at least, I’ve heard them said aloud. It seemed to me some folks already view Montana as a mythical paradise. Why not?

What got you into writing?

Severe social anxiety and a love for books.

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

I’ve always thought of myself as a novelist. I’ve written many novel-length manuscripts over the years (the first of which, A Song Without a Melody, is forthcoming in October from Hyperborea Publishing). Still, it has been a struggle to find homes for them. My poems, however, are vagabonds sleeping on whatever couches they can.

What are your influences? Who are your favorite writers?

With poetry, the big ones would be Lehman, Zagajewski, Strand, and probably throw in a little Neruda. I’ve been obsessed with all four at one point or another. But there have been so many. I read any poetry collection or journal I can get my hands on. For prose, I like to think that if Hesse, Camus, Burroughs, and Jim Morrison all sat around a campfire telling stories, THAT would be the novel I’d want to write.

What’s your proudest moment as an author?

Hopefully still to come. So far though, I’d have to say the acceptance of my second poetry book, The Prisoners. It came on the same day I made it out of the penitentiary, so that’s a pretty significant day for me.

How has your writing developed over time?

I’d like to think it has become more precise. “Precise” — that’s a good word. I’ll go with that.

Are you currently working on anything?

I’m always working on something. Poetry, mostly. A few short stories here and there. What I’m most focused on are the two books I have forthcoming: the novel I mentioned before and my third poetry book, tentatively titled Ultra-Deep Field, that Brick Road Poetry Press will release in the near future. Plus, I’m still trying to find publishers for my other novel and poetry manuscripts. There are many, and I keep shopping them around.

What’s your writing process?

It’s not particularly interesting. I make coffee. I smoke a cigarette. Then I read until I’m ready to write. As soon as I put the book down, I pick up the pen.

What are you currently reading?

For poetry, Rita Mae Reese’s The Alphabet Conspiracy; for a novel, Stephanie Dickinson’s Love Highway; and some volume of Best American Short Stories (2012, I think).

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

Yes, I wrote two short stories with writer Jennifer Lynn Hall, which you can find in Heavy Feather Review and Canadian journal All Rights Reserved.  That was a long time ago. It was a lot of fun, but there were a bunch of drugs involved. I don’t know that I’d be able to do that again.

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

My first year in college, I wrote lyrics for a metal band. I loved that. I’d do that again in a second. But that was the start of the ’90s. Oh, well.

Ace Boggess’ poetry can be found in Issue 8 and Issue 10 of Jenny Magazine.

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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