Saturday, March 25, 2023

Q&A with Jessica Bell





Jessica Bell is the author of the new poetry collection A Tide Should Be Able to Rise Despite Its Moon. She is also a singer-songwriter, a publisher, and a graphic designer.


Q: Over how long a period did you write the poems in your collection?

A: I started a little over a year ago, just by challenging myself to write a poem every time I felt like vegging in front of the TV. It had been so long since I'd written poetry. Almost a decade. Plenty of lyrics and prose, so it's not as if I was rusty, but there had not been any poetry “goal” for a very long time.


I had not actually intended to put together a collection. I just wanted to write some great pieces that I could maybe submit to literary magazines. Something else I hadn't done in a very very long time. Being the mother of a toddler, a book cover designer, a singer-songwriter, and the publisher of a small press doesn't leave much time for my own writing projects.


But I was really beginning to miss it, so I started small, without pressure. In about six months time I realized that there were very few poems that weren’t about motherhood. Initially, I thought, "jeez, you are now the epitome of domesticity," and felt negatively about it.


I didn't write again for a couple of months, but then one day, it just hit me that these poems probably have an audience. I then launched back in with a vision, and within another month, I had a book.
Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

A: I actually had a few titles that I liked, and asked my social media followers to vote--twice! It was a very close call, but I ended up choosing the title that came in second, since I felt it better reflected the contents of the book. Here's the link to the initial poll:


Even though I believe the title can be interpreted in many ways, the title to me is a metaphor for how we should have the ability to be free from the perceived constraints of our world. The meaning of everything in life can shift with a simple and small change of perspective.

Q: The writer Elaina Battista-Parsons said of the book, “It's highly universal, yet still lands in its own category of brilliance...” What do you think of that description?

A: It was such an honour to receive that review. My poems seem simple, but they're actually not once you “get” the deeper meaning in them. I'm challenging the meaning of life in every piece.

Q: What do you think the poems say about the mother-child bond?

A: It is both as solid as an iron fist and as fragile as a frayed cotton thread.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: A biography of my Oma (German for grandma) in verse.

After giving birth to my mother, she'd already given birth to two boys. The father of the eldest boy, Fritz, was an American soldier, her first true love, who was reported to have died in the war before ever meeting his son. My Oma was only 16.

Not long after my Oma died in 2016, Fritz discovered that his father was in fact alive, but by the time he managed to find him and get in touch with his wife, he discovered that he'd just died, around the same time as my Oma. Just devastating.

I have, in my hands, my Oma's memoir in progress, written in very poor English, but very comprehensible. It's basically a summary of her life, and since reading Bobish by Magdalena Ball, I've decided that verse is the one and only way to really bring my Oma's past alive in a way that is true to my own creative self.


I don't want to write another typical WWII historical romance. I want to write something with passion and something unique. At this point in my career, I'm totally over trying to write the next bestseller. I am writing for me and for me only. And in this case, for my Oma and my family. If others want to read my work, then that's a bonus.

Right now I'm pulling out scenes from her notes, and deciding how to use them in a poem, and what questions I need answering, and what research I need to do, etc. So planning is well under way. It's a bit daunting, but I'm excited to learn and create something with that new knowledge.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: If you enjoy my poetry, you might also enjoy my music. You can find links to my various music projects here:


--Interview with Deborah Kalb