Jess Watts, whose poem ‘Me; Murderer’ is published in issue 6 of Lucent Dreaming, is in her final year of studying BA English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. When not in Norwich, she lives in South London and, after remembering that she’s writing one, works on her novel. Excluding the UEA Undergraduate Anthology 2019, this is her first poetry publication.
So, what inspired your piece ‘Me; Murderer’? Can you tell us a little more about what it’s about?
Throughout history women, and for this poem I was thinking particularly of the suffragette movement, have had to fight, to rebel, against expectation. If I am the living example of what they fought for, generations on, am I still a rebel? Am I actively rebelling against anything anymore? Have I murdered what they fought for, in being her?
These are the questions I had whilst writing this poem. I often use a lot of pronouns in my poetry and here, I was playing with the historical and the contemporary – and figuring out where I, ‘me’, fits into this conversation (or battle) now.
What are some of your favourite books and art (including shows, videos, music) – of all time or more recently. Why are they favourites?
I definitely consume too much TV but Normal People (BBC) and Unorthodox (Netflix) have been two recent binges (because I can’t watch a series any other way) that I loved. As with novels, interesting characters are my kryptonite. For film, JoJo Rabbit (2019) is now one of my all-time favourites. I’ve raved about it to nearly everyone on my contacts list.
Music definitely inspires my creativity. If I’m in a dreamy mood, I’ll listen to Roo Panes or Sleeping At Last. Often when I’m writing prose, I’ll listen to film soundtracks: Emma (2020) and Little Women (2019) have been great company.
The way Virginia Woolf writes will always sing to me in some way but I think my favourite book I’ve read recently is The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. The introspection of these characters amid (and inspired by) the beauty of an Italian spring really was, as the title suggests, enchanting. Poetry wise I recently discovered Yevtushenko and have been working my way through his poems. ‘Waking’ made me tear up a little.
What, if anything, are you looking forward to right now and what writing/creative projects are you currently working on?
For the past couple of months, I’ve been working on my debut novel and am just about to get started on the second draft (which is equal parts exciting and terrifying). I just hope I don’t completely hate it! Having this project has definitely been keeping me sane in this uncertain time… especially after the very anti-climactic end to my degree.
Can you tell us about how you got into writing and art? Is there anyone whose support or encouragement really inspired or motivated you?
I’ve wanted to be an author since I was six years old and have grown up surrounded by stories. My parents encouraged me to read from an early age and my dad would often spin tales for me and my brother at bedtime. Throughout my school career, my teachers would ask for a mention in all my future novels so it really has been a part of my identity for as long as I can remember. Now I am mostly encouraged by online readers. I’ve been posting writing anonymously for the past few years and it has been very freeing to try different ideas and styles without the pressure of anyone knowing who I am. The support I’ve received on this platform has been hugely motivating.
I really am always writing, whether that’s on a word document or a scribble in my journal. Dramatic as it sounds (though us creative types often are), it’s a necessity.
Where can people see more of you and your work?
I actually don’t post much creative writing online publicly but I definitely want to get braver at doing so. Below are places I mostly just ramble and share photography:
Lucent Dreaming is an independent creative writing magazine publishing beautiful, imaginative and surreal short stories, poetry and artwork from emerging authors and artists worldwide. Our aim is to encourage creativity and to help writers reach publication! Subscribe to Lucent Dreaming now, support us on Patreon and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.