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Author Q&A With Poet Jet Widick

Where did your love of poetry come from?

My love of poetry came from my love for music and a fascination with lyrics and rhyming at a young age. I love fun poetry and discovered the book A Rocket In My Pocket in elementary school among the pages of Scholastic Magazine. Along with Dr. Seuss and a special adoration for Shel Silverstein, I couldn’t get enough of these humorous silly rhymes!

How long have you been writing?

With many an interruption, my whole life. However recently I really took it up a notch. The last three years have been full of incredible growth and expansion. My muse came and softly sat on my shoulder—inspired by nature, life experiences and the people I love. My first career was one of practicality (nursing), but early on my dreams were in poetry.

How do you begin a poem?

Often it’s in the middle of the night, driving, or on a big walk or hike. Nature, outside, sunshine, friends mine. An idea of something sweet or special comes to mind and I can imagine it written out and drawn. It’s part of the process of beginning the poem. I picture the final piece.

Why did you decide to write a hand-lettered and illustrated poetry book?

I have always loved gift books with texture that are visually exquisite. I’ve seen many beautiful books, but the one that really captivated me and made me want to do my own was Lisa Congdon’s Fortune Favors the Brave. I’ve been intrigued by doodling and how hand-drawn illustrations have come to the forefront in design. I’m inspired by Lisa’s work and the New York Times Modern Love column, and enjoy delicate designs and simplicity on the page!

What was your wish list in terms of art style and character traits when gathering a team of creatives to illustrate words that were extremely personal to you?

Work ethic, artistry, kindness, a connected vision, organization, respect. Art style: freehand.

What was it like to see imagery form around your poems?

There was a process. First, I explained my inspiration and the stories behind my poems to my designer Kristen Alden. Then she found Kimberly, our hand lettering artist and illustrator. Kristen’s listening skills and her patience with me made it work. She got it. Her ability to keep the project on target were huge. Over time, as a design was completed—first concepts and pencil sketches, then digitizing—it was like Christmas morning! I would celebrate each one as they were completed.

What do you see as the role of humor in poetry?

Humor lifts the weight that life can sometimes bring. It’s an art form. Humor takes us out of ourselves. It heals us, makes us smile, brings us joy and conjures fond memories.

Which one of the poems in your book is your favorite and why?

Your Home. It is sweet comfort and goes deep. It’s soulful and, most importantly, it was a gift. I also love Battered, Not Broken because it was the first one. It was the poem that started it all.

How can poetry have the power to heal?

Poetry is a bear hug for your soul! It soothes and distracts. It brings us happiness and warmth. Poetry reminds us to be present. It celebrates the simple pleasures of life.