Joe is holds the office of Board Secretary, and is a Research Communications Analyst for RTI International, an independent nonprofit research institute.
Tell us about your job:
I help design, launch, and manage digital communications campaigns that create a positive social impact. I’ve also worked as a journalist, editor, educator, librarian, non-profit administrator, and content marketing manager.
What excites you about the mission of The Writer’s Garret?
It’s focus on community. The Writer’s Garret has always been committed to making literature — that is, the creative application of the written or spoken word — as accessible as possible. I’m excited to see the organization continue that work and take an even more inclusive and equitable approach to it.
What literature or literary material do you engage with regularly?
I trained as a novelist, but I mostly write poetry these days. I’m also interested in hybridity, whether that be across literary forms / genres or multiple artistic disciplines (music, visual arts, etc.).
What’s a significant moment in your life when language (speech, headline, book, poem, etc.) impacted you, and how?
At the risk of showing my age: the day I discovered the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. I don’t think I realized it then, but that’s when I learned that the reader completes the work of art the writer has initiated.
Living writer you’d most like to meet?
A book you’ve returned to, and why?
I’ve read Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts multiple times. It’s probably the great American novel of The Great Depression, meaning it has a lot to tell us about late-stage capitalism, too. (Some phantasmagoria and “sick jokes” never shed their relevance.) Besides that, the book is a marvelous verbal construction. Even if you don’t care for its sensibility, you can learn a lot from its prosody.
A favorite piece of writing:
Not an all-time favorite, perhaps, but a recent one: Bob Kaufman’s “Jail Poems.” In its entirety, section 34 reads: “Come, help flatten a raindrop.” It’s a single line and a complete poem, and I find that very much worth meditating upon.
You have an hour to read, no interruptions. Set the scene for us:
I am a morning person, so, in this scenario, I am probably reading and drinking coffee (black) as the sun is coming up. It’s also perpetually October, meaning I can sit outside comfortably and read in the new daylight.
What’s on your nightstand to read?
1. Earthworks Rising: Mound Building in Native Literature and Arts by Chadwick Allen
2. Sleep by Amelia Rosselli
3. Fat Time and Other Stories by Jeffery Renard Allen
You’re having a dinner party and you can invite any writer living or dead. Who do you choose and why?
I would invite Enheduanna, the woman generally accepted (although not without some controversy) to be the first author in recorded history. Assuming she is, I’d love to hear her thoughts on the current state of language and communication. Did pressing a stylus into a wet clay tablet feel as consequential to her then as we now know it to be?