Jamie Houghton

what is your name?
Jamie Rose Shanahan- but I write under my maiden name, Jamie Houghton.

how would you describe what you do?
I’m a poet. I write songs on my bass and have played in bands, and I sometimes write in other genres- namely, essays and some short fiction. I’ve even tried my hand at live storytelling- I love connecting with an audience. But for me, it all starts and ends with poetry.

what are you currently working on?
Poems. I’ve been teaching myself ukelele for a couple year now. Doing a storytelling performance last year inspired me to write more nonfiction stories about my life and about my family. I find personal nonfiction scary and challenging because I’m always aware of the danger of crossing the line into telling a story that is not mine to tell.

what has had the greatest influence on your work?
People I encounter who have a point of view or tell me their stories. The words people share with me are really precious to me and they tend to stick in my head. I like to find a way to celebrate people through my poems.

what is the greatest misconception about you or your work?
People are sometimes surprised when they read my work or hear me perform, because I share a lot of myself on the page and on the stage that I find difficult to share interpersonally.

what do you see as the main strengths and weaknesses of the medium you work in?
Poetry has everything- music, story, symbolism. It speaks to the subconscious. The weakness in poetry is that we can distract ourselves from words with words. There can actually be too much poetry in a poem- too many embellishments, too many things going on. It’s about using poetry to tell a more powerful truth, but not a contrived truth. It’s capturing the light that is already in a moment.

how has technology impacted upon the work you do?
I have a blog, which allows more people to read my writing. I write more drafts directly on my Mac than I used to, but many still start in my journal.

what’s the greatest piece of advice you would like to pass on?
Kill your darlings.

where can we find you online?

what are you reading at the moment?
What to Expect When You’re Expecting

what are you listening to at the moment?
Shira E., Instrumental Tango mixes and Miley Cyrus’ Backyard Sessions. Seriously- they’re really good.

anything else we should know?
I don’t think we should suffer for our art. I don’t think you should force yourself to write a certain amount every single day, or dispair when you have “writer’s block.” Maybe it’s just time to take a break and be present in life and write about it later on.

any suggestions for who we should interview next?
Rachel Carman, zinester/artist

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