Jenni Frendswith, a Christian poet and author who shares my love of Psalms, is our second poet interview!
Jenni Frendswith Takes Haiku to New Heights
Author Jenni Frendswith is the author of several books new to the Kindle format, including novels (the YA thriller Stonecraft and the “chick-lit” comedy Tru Syndra Ella) and the popular YA novella series This Young Jesus. She is also a published poet with Haiku For You, her first published collection. Her future plans include a mainstream adult romance series to premiere in Kindle format, the Circe Lynne Novellas.
Tell us about yourself. What is your name?
My name is Jenni Frendswith, a native of Southern California with English and Welsh background. I’ve been writing for years, but I’ve only recently had the opportunity to put my books out on Kindle, through my new publisher, Blujesto Press.
How did you get started writing poetry?
I never liked poetry much, to tell you the truth, never really understood it. I liked good song lyrics, which I guess are different. I like good prose, which can be poetic, but also, that’s different. And the whole high school poetry class stuff never grabbed me either, or the live-performance slam poetry stuff. I guess it was the haiku that made me fall in love with poetry. Something about the discipline of it, yet the flexibility. It doesn’t sound rhymie-dimie, like a greeting card. It’s got a real grace to it, it’s very restricted as to its form and yet it’s very open-ended in the same way. I like that.
Do you have any books published?
Blujesto Press just bought up all my digital rights, and they rolled out my two novels, STONECRAFT, which is a YA thriller and kind of a modernized telling of FRANKENSTEIN, and TRU SYNDRA ELLA which is kind of a modern romantic comedy version of Cinderella. I’ve got a non-fiction book, A PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN HANDBOOK, and of course THIS YOUNG JESUS. The third novella in that series, PANTHEON, comes out this month. My poetry book HAIKU FOR YOU, I guess is what we’re here to talk about though.
Have you been featured in any magazines or journals?
I’ve done a few interviews online, not many though. I’d like to do more!
What is your poetic dream?
Well, I’m a writer, so I have as many dreams as I can handle! Turning those dreams into reality is my job, that’s what writers do. I guess my dream is just to keep doing that.
Who are your favorite poets?
Well, since I don’t really come from the poetic tradition, I don’t have as big a reference to draw from. But I do like Ted Hughes, the husband of Sylvia Plath. And Dylan Thomas. I guess Shakespeare’s written some of the great poetry, if it can be called that. A lot of Cyrano de Bergerac is great poetry, for sure. And of course there are the psalms, written by King David, included in the Old Testament. I’d consider that body of work, 151 poems in all, to be among the great poetic volumes of all time, absolutely. It is also among the most quoted, if not strictly the most quoted of all time, because that 23rd psalm is read at so many funerals and lines from it are inscribed on so many church alters. No poem is more oft-recited than that: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil…” Whatever your spiritual beliefs, you have to admit it: this is amazing writing and no doubt among the most oft-repeated.
Which poet in history do you strive to emulate?
I guess King David — pretty big shoes to fill, but why not aim high?
Do you have a specific style of poetry that you prefer to write?
Haiku only. I love building poems in which each haiku is a stanza of its own. That’s kind of my thing as a poet. Why not? They’re short, just 5,7,5 syllables. Why not stack them up and really make a point? The other formats just don’t connect with me, probably because I’m not principally a poet. I do love writing my little haiku though. They’re such graceful little things…
Do you have a specific style of poetry that you like to read?
For me, reading poetry and writing it are different experiences. I write poetry whenever I can, but I never seem to read it. I do so much reading with my other work, that poetry is, for me, a respite. But writing it is the respite, reading it just never seems to come into the picture for me. I know a lot of people love to read poetry but never write it. So we all have our place in the cosmic scheme of things…
What advice would you give to a student or newbie when it comes to the craft of poetry?
You have to follow your bliss on poetry — on all writing, really. Forget fame, money, big house, movie star pals, all that stuff. Writing is a lonely and sacrificial life. You’d have to be crazy to do it! So only do it if you’re crazy to do it, if you just can’t help yourself. In that case, of course you must do it — but do it right. Learn. Read. Study. Put in the years, not only of study but of experience. There’s no substitute for it, and it’s the only way to have some kind of life while you’re maturing into the writer you want to be. There are four stages of artistry: imitation, experimentation, stylistic, influential. Any artist must undergo these stages, the great artists do it several times in a career. Picasso did it five or six times, Miles Davis did it four, the Beatles did it at least twice, Bob Dylan did it six or seven times! Even once is an amazing thing! So take the time to imitate, to experiment, to create a style, and then to let that style take affect.
Is poetry your primary genre, or do you write across many genres?
Guess I covered this, but poetry is an off-shoot of my long-form fiction, a lot of it in the romance subcategories.
If you feel like sharing a poem with us, please do!
Here’s a brand new haiku written just for this occasion:
This Interview: a poem in 3 haiku by Jenni Frendswith
This interview was / both informative and fun / and well worth the time
I hope it becomes / an inspiration to you / readers and writers
and helps you create / something special and worthwhile / and beautiful too.
List your website, facebook, amazon book URL, and any other relevant sites where we could learn more about you and buy your books.