Recent Work By Jackson Frons

 

I know Sophie Jennis from the internet. The internet is also where I first read her poems. That’s relevant because Sophie’s work, particularly the poems in her debut full length Hot Young Stars (House of Vlad), engages with what it is like to be online. I don’t mean that these poems recycle the language of the internet, or the general “mood,” but that they are fractured and spontaneous; elusive and aphoristic. Sophie often writes about the body, but this is a body made unreal with language. A body made of voice, obscured, filtered. We conducted this interview over a few hours in July via email. My body was in Syracuse, NY. Sophie was in the same state, further south. 

 

Sophie Jennis is a poet from the Hudson Valley of New York. Her writing has appeared at NY Tyrant and Hobart, among other places. Her poetry chapbook, Find Peace Either Way, was published by Blush in 2019. Hot Young Stars is available now, get it here.

 

What was your process writing these poems/where was your starting point? How did the book end up in the shape it’s in?

 

The first poem I wrote with the intention of starting a full-length collection is also the first poem in the book. I wanted to show the process of what developed naturally based off of the tone it set for me. Before I wrote that poem I had the intention of wanting to make a really fun book, especially to contrast my chapbook, which is a bit serious both in its tone and content. The process of writing these poems was pretty random, mostly written on the notes app in various settings; otherwise it involved staring at a Google doc in the hopes of writing four or five at a time. I write really fast, one reason being that the poems are so short, and also because my style is to not think at all before I write. That has brought me the most success in terms of the poems being genuine and spirited (I did this also for my chapbook), and the only thing that feels natural to me. 

 

Given that none of the poems are titled, do you want people to read Hot Young Stars as a sort of long poem? 

 

I actually don’t intend for it to be read as one long poem, but I can certainly see how it might come across that way. I like keeping each idea separate, but however anyone wants to approach its format is cool with me! 

 

I was asked over the summer to review the new David Berman album, the debut self-titled release of his new project, Purple Mountains. It was his first release, besides a one off with The Avalanches (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XTrz0yvxe0), in around a decade. The album is very good, and often brilliant, like the rest of Berman’s records. And his book of poems, Actual Air. And The Portable February, his collection of cartoons and doodles. And his essays, which are not plentiful, scattered and uncollected. I planned to write about the album and its relation to Berman’s genius, and his mastery of language and form. How it is the work of an old, tired master—an album without flash. One that is smooth, perceptive, prescient, and weighted with pain. I was to finish the piece after seeing Purple Mountains play a concert at Brooklyn’s Murmrr theater. That would have been in late August. 

This plan made sense to me for a few reasons. First, the symbolic. Murmrr was once a synagogue. And as a writer of a vague and intrinsic Jewishness, I feel a sort of kinship with Berman. We are wanderers in the same diasporic and Freudianly horny tradition. And, at least to me, a devoted fan, Berman, across his output, proffered something spiritual. What one might call a rabbinic element. A gesture at a fuller life beyond bodies and their doldrums. A life of language. A life of more and less living. 

a review of Sun Kil Moon’s latest record, I Also Want to Die in New Orleans (Caldo Verde Records, 2019)

 

My mother and I drive from Los Angeles to a suburb outside San Francisco because her father is dying. At least he thinks he’s dying. His bladder has stage three cancer and his blood pressure is bad and he’s losing weight.  But the doctors say that with radiation he could last a few more years. The cancer moves slow.

We’re on the 101, just beyond King City, and I’m listening to the new Sun Kil Moon album, I Also Want to Die in New Orleans. She isn’t. I’m wearing headphones, even though she wants to talk, because I told her I’m writing a review of the album. My mother is very small. She grips the wheel tightly. She hunches forward when I tell her, “My friend Joey at The Nervous Breakdown asked me to review the new Sun Kil Moon album so I’m listening to it now, on headphones.” She’s only okay with me putting on headphones if I frame it as “a career thing.” She likes to talk to me (not about her dying father) and it’s not like I’m home very often or the best at sharing things about my life on the phone, or in person. Sometimes I don’t know if my mother trusts me. Like her, I don’t particularly like her dying father. But I think, maybe because she says I have his eyes, that she worries some nasty part of him will continue living on inside of me. And that scares her. The car is a BMW SUV.

Racquet

By Jackson Frons

Short Story

Tonight I will see Bonnie for the last time, but I don’t know it yet. We get together roughly once a month. We get drunk. We get high. We don’t have a ton to talk about, but she’s cool. We’re both downers, but she makes a lot of money. And I’m happy about seeing her. I’m happy that the early afternoon sun is out and that it finally feels like fall—cool crisp breeze, sky a vacant shade of blue like animated swimming pools.

I’m walking down Willoughby Avenue to work. I coach tennis in the park. I’m wearing a furry black sweater I stole from my dad. He stole it from a Norwegian television station. My beard is long. My hips hurt from running on cement 28 hours a week. My head buzzes from smoking too much pot last night. Most nights. I’m happy in a sad way. Like I know this is pretty great, the way I’m living, and I wish I could enjoy it more.