How does it feel to be a 41 year-old grandmother and a poet?

Wise beyond my years. In rhythm.


Do you always speak tersely in verse?

Often. But not always.


I read that you wrote your first play at ten?

Yes. It’s about three very attractive people who turn themselves into hideous monsters in order to find their inner beauty.


That’s deep.

Thank you.


And you wrote your first songs at age nine?

Yes. I wanted to be John Lennon. But my lyrics never had music.


When did you realize that you were a poet?

At 23. I wrote “I climbed because I wished to fly” Or rather, it came through me.


What do you mean?

Like I was a channel for the words flying out of me onto the page like blood and lightning.


Oh. And when was that?

October 1992. I was reading Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling.


Ah.

For my Introduction to Existential Philosophy class.


That’s right, you were a philosophy major, weren’t you?

Yes.


Tell me about that.

Well, I was looking for a major at UWM…


Madison?

No, Milwaukee. I had dropped fine art and psychology. And I noticed I was taking so many philosophy classes.


So, there you go.

Right.


Did you always believe in God?

Not so much believe, I’ve simply had experiences that I cannot deny.


Were you ever an atheist?

Yes. I denied concepts of God. I even quit my confirmation class. Then, after studying dreams and visions in American Indian metaphysics, along with Eastern philosophy and religions, Islamic philosophy and mysticism, Vodoun, Santeria, Baha’i, Zoroastrianism, magic, pagan and neo-paganism, new age, cults, reading the major scriptural texts, I sat down one afternoon and read the entire Gospel of John. And knew I was a Catholic.


Wow.

I wanted to run down the streets naked singing about love for God.


Like St. Francis.

Yes. He’s been quite an inspiration. And Hildegard von Bingen.


Hilde-who?

Hildegard von Bingen, 12th century abbess, and visionary, leader, composer, poet, herbalist, activist, artist…


Like you.

That’s the sense I’ve always felt.


I understand you’ve written a screenplay about her.

Yes. The project was blessed by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.


Cool.

Indeed.


Who are some of your other inspirations?

Simone Weil, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, e.e. cummings, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Parker, Zora Neale Hurston, Edith Wharton, Charles Bukowski, Jerome Schroeder, Matt Cook, Jen Benka, Geo Kiesow, Marc Smith, Jennifer Knox, Stephanie Strickland, Ryokan, Charlie Kaufman, John Patrick Shanley, Jean Paul Sartre, Fabrizio Mondadori, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco… pretty much anyone who writes and writes well inspires me.


And you’ve made your living as a writer?

Yes. Not an easy living mind you. But the passion remains.


What do you write about?

Many many things. I’ve been blessed to travel and see the world. To meet fascinating people. To love. To give birth, and witness birth. To die a couple of times. To live again. To draw from the well of guts and illumination.


Will you ever stop writing?

No. I suspect, even after the next death, I’ll keep on.


Thank you.

You’re welcome.

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JEANNE MARIE SPICUZZA is an international writer, actress, filmmaker, performer, painter and herbalist, and the founder of Seasons & a Muse corporations. A member of the Alliance of Women Directors, Film Fatales and Cinefemme, Jeanne Marie holds a B.A. in philosophy and psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While working on her M.A. in philosophy, she studied acting in London and Los Angeles, and art history in Italy. Finalist, nominee and winner of various awards, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, the Golden Headset Award, the National Organization for Women “Woman of the Year” and the Shepherd Express Best Performance Artist of the Year, Jeanne Marie is published in A Gathering of Tribes, Blue Fifth Review, Poetic Diversity and others. Her films have screened at Wisconsin Film Festival, Portobello Film Festival, LA Femme International Film Festival and more. Her premiere feature thriller, “The Scarapist,”™ won the VDKUF Award for best picture at the Berlinale European Film Market in 2016. Jeanne Marie is currently in post-production of her second motion picture, “Night Rain.” She is in active development of two additional motion picture projects, “Making Angels” and “Breath of God,” and is writing two new screenplays. An audio segment of her screenplay “Breath of God” from her self-titled CD is on permanent exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. A mother and grandmother, Jeanne Marie lives in Los Angeles with her husband, film composer and Violent Femmes and BoDeans drummer, Guy Hoffman.

6 responses to “Jeanne Marie Spicuzza: The TNB Self-Interview”

  1. milo martin says:

    Jeanne
    wonderful to see you on this literary site…

    “experiences that you cannot deny…” a very basal way in believing…perhaps empirical evidence does and can play a part in our spiritual beliefs, not confined to the abstract of mere faith…right on…

    vegetarians unite!

    truly,
    Milo

    • Thank you Milo!

      So grateful to you for inviting me to participate in TNB– this has been an outstanding week! And for your very thoughtful response. I’m reminded of Victor Weisskopf discussing the Big Bang while interposing language of the Book of Genesis. Or Carl Jung in the Undiscovered Self. And Soren Kierkegaard’s ‘Fear and Trembling’, whereby faith is not mere belief or speculation that leads to a heightened sense of security, but rather dread, unknowing and, finally, union, for such is this harrowing *act* of love… good stuff! And you’ve said it so well! Right on, Milo!

      Vegetarians unite, indeed! ;*)

      Blessings Always,
      Jeanne Marie

  2. NaomiX says:

    Hildegard von Bingen. Cool. I loved the German movie about her, Vision, directed by Margarethe von Trotta.

  3. Roscoe says:

    “Draw from the well of guts…”? You’re mixing your metaphors, and not in a good way either. Yuk!

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