Featured poet probably won’t present anything on ‘Elfes’
By Cat Donnelly
TFW Contributing Writer
Jen Jabaily-Blackburn, a recent University of Arkansas MFA graduate and a senior editor for Linebreak.org, will read her work at the Ozark Poets & Writers Collective monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 28 at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville.
Originally from Braintree, Mass., Jabaily-Blackburn has been writing since she was a child but did not write poetry seriously until she was an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. While getting her degree in English, one of her professors told her about the MFA program at the UA.
Her parents recently gave Jabaily-Blackburn a framed poem from when she was about 7 years old, written on memo pad paper that went (with young spelling preserved) “Elfes/Little Elfes/Like to play/On a sunny summer day.” She claims she has not written about any elves since.
She does have a more recent poem in the current issue of Hayden’s Ferry Review and her work has also appeared in Subtropics and Front Porch among other journals. Jabaily-Blackburn reads a lot in order to fuel her writing.
“Sometimes, I’ll write imitations of or responses to other poems and writers. I also like writing about art, myths, folklore,” she says. “It’s how I understand what’s around me.”
Though she reads American poets, Jabaily-Blackburn is drawn to writers and poets from the area of Ireland and the United Kingdom because of the musicality of their languages. Thomas Hardy, Seamus Heaney, Eilean ni Chuilleanain, Eavan Boland, Mary O’Malley, Yeats, Simon Armitage, Rita Ann Higgins and Philip Larkin are some of her favorites.
During her stint as a teaching assistant, Jabaily-Blackburn advised her students to read voraciously.
“You need to know what’s out there and what’s developing in the literary world,” says Jabaily-Blackburn. “Also, I think it’s best to follow your obsessions in your work.”
Jabaily-Blackburn has had a lot of fun editing Linebreak, which updates each Tuesday with a featured poem by one poet that is read by another poet.
Jabaily-Blackburn lives with her husband and a rescued old beagle named Ricky. They will be moving back to the east coast so her husband can pursue his doctoral degree. So join us at OPWC Tuesday night while you can catch her spoken work.
We also encourage you to bring your own poetry to share at open mic. As past featured writer Ashley McHugh said, “[OPWC] really encourages a sense of community, even camaraderie, that’s rare to come across, and the atmosphere is always warm and welcoming.”