Below is the reprint of my interview on
Atop the Cliffs poetry journal.
They’ve published several of my
poems over the last few years
and now posed these engaging questions, enjoy.
EVERYTHING HAS A BEGINNING
No one lacks a story. So what about the poets we publish here at Atop The Cliffs?
We thought it might be interesting to host a few interviews with poets we have published.
Interview with Jared George of The Great Order
How did you end up writing poetry?
It was something I was intuitively drawn to in young adolescence, as an extension of music and songwriting as well. It’s that being on the edge, in this case the edge of language, to convey one’s own thoughts and imaginings, to explore the hazy territory between rationality and intuition.
Who Are Some Of Your Favorite Poets, and Why?
I’m rubbish with “favorites” lists but I’m generally drawn to poets who are romantic, mystical and imagistic without overstaying their welcome. I was just reading some Rilke so he deserves a mention.
What Do you Think About the Public Perception of Poetry in the West today?
In all arts there’s been a general decrease of nuance and multidimensionality, works that demand contemplation and repeated reads/views/listens. People have been trained for quick hits. Things like poetry are doubly mired in the public mind in that poetry is seen as outmoded and old fashioned, unless it is framed as some kind of grievance from an oppressed group etc. As more people in the West become more aware of the pointed attacks on our peoples and cultures, one can only hope for and work toward a revival of something that carries more substance and sustenance in form and content.
Can You Share Any Advice to Aspiring Poets?
Well I’ll just speak generally as a creative person since I’m really a songwriter. That’s not to say that my poems are scraps from lyrics I didn’t use for songs, nothing of the sort. It’s just to acknowledge that poetry is not my main craft and what I grew up imbibing and studying. There’s different ways to put this, but one might be this: when you’re first beginning a work, be aware of clearly distinguishing what mode you’re in.
When you are first beginning a new work, I find it best to let go, experiment, enjoy yourself and let the spirit of the thing, the original kernel that inspired you, take over. The distinction here is that you are not yet in editing mode. Later, after you have some raw material to work with, you can go back with a more critical and rational eye and begin to cut away things that are not needed and get a better sense of the shape of the work—be it a song, a poem, anything. There may be more rounds of inspired writing, followed by more rounds of editing. And it’s almost like a funnel, where the rational and intuitive start to interplay with each other more closely as you get to that final point where you know you have something finished. When do you think you’re close to being done, put the work down for a bit, then come back to it later.
When it feels right, when it sounds right, when you know you’ve mentally pushed yourself to not be lazy and use clichés… when you know that you’ve served the spirit of the piece so that there’s a definite tenor or message to it, while still bearing the general mark of your overall values and aesthetics, the things you want to contribute to the world and see more of in the world… then you’re probably done. Then you release it and just let it live out there to interact with other people.
How Would You Describe Yourself Politically?
That very generally, just like for a family or other group, political orders serve to assert boundaries around a people, allowing that people to live out its story and thrive. It’s therefore best to look for organic and holistic principles as starting points, and specifics that are apropos to a given time and circumstance form from and serve those principles.
Life is cyclical, unknowns pop up, there’s no one economic system or set of laws and codes that’s ironclad and best for all time. But one example of such a principle I’d say is that there should be a clear symbiotic flow of responsibilities and ways to contribute among the varying classes of a given people, none based on exploitation. A sense of “us”’and “them” is crucial—we are manipulated today to feel that such an approach is anathema, but anything in life organically has to find a balancing point between openness and boundaries. Trading and cultural exchange is fine and at times necessary when there’s clear reciprocity, but to keep meaningful lines distinct, following this line of thinking would assert that it’s also fair and necessary to denote when media or arts are made or funded by foreign interests. So those are just a couple of starting points.
European-derived peoples generally seem to function best in structures that allow for multiple poles of power and influence within the society, so that there are different arenas in which people can work, learn, compete. Examples may be guilds, art circles, universities, research centers and private enterprises. This is in contrast with a political order where everything or most things are top down, one straight vertical line where all activities serve and are about the state. But of course this assumes there’s enough of a sense of a “we” culturally. That’s why there has to be recognizable markers: the stories, symbols, customs, arts, heritage of a people. It seems from observing the current state of many of our Western countries that the experiments to have societies only based on economic zones and citizenship status is not working, because everyone just becomes driftless economic mercenaries, and groups with more organic ties form ethnic enclaves within a given country. These are just some broad strokes, as I am not the type who studies political history and keeps up on day-to-day politics.
Anything else you’d like to add for our readers?
As I write this in August 2021, I know tensions are high, much is at stake, I know people are extremely concerned and under great stress. What I have generally seen helping in my own life and those around me is to have practices every day to center yourself. Do things mentally, physically and spiritually that nourish you, while not adding toxins to your body and mind, in order to stay centered. And from that centered awareness—and this is key—be very aware and realistic about what you have agency over and what you do not.
Times of transition are very confusing and messy, and while there’s endless news items we can point to that can support the idea that “it’s over” and “global tyranny” is imminent, nothing is guaranteed. What they’re trying has never been tried before. It may be too big, too much. It’s waking more people up daily. And remember, the stresses we are experiencing right now are also what have spawned renaissances in the past…
Thank you Jared!
Jared George poems on Atop the Cliffs: