Jeremy Voigt is a writer, teacher, reader, father,and husband living in the Pacific Northwest. His poems have appeared in Willow Springs, Gulf Coast, Post Road, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and many other magazines. His chapbook, Neither Rising nor Falling was featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He teaches at Burlington-Edison High school as well as at Whatcom Community College.
Where or when were you the happiest?
Among my family in those rare and fine moments when everyone’s needs are met and we are all engaged with each other or some independent thing in the same space, clicking like a fine rhyme, laughing, eating, playing, walking one of the many trails around our home, and I can relax into what feels like my true self where the writer-teacher-editor-father-husband selves merge easily. Or just on any trail.
What are your pet peeves?
Far too plentiful, I’m afraid, so much so I’ve actively tried to erase them, I mean, what if I am just the sum of my pet peeves? A few at the top of the list: snapping in response to a poem, people driving in a parking lot who do not come to a complete stop when small children are crossing in front of their car, telemarketers, when retailers disingenuously break from the pleasantry script, when the overly-self-involved dominate time and attention–ok, I’ll note the irony and stop on that one.
What is your favorite season?
I love the months where the seasons overlap, when there is both nostalgia and anticipation, that great reminder of change, when summer is becoming fall, fall slipping into winter, winter flexing into spring, and spring dozing into summer.
What living person do you most admire?
My wife. Thich Nhat Hahn. A host of other people living life with attentiveness and doing both worldly and domestic work.
If you could be a non-human animal for a day, what would you be?
A barred owl. A crow. Deer? Something that can know the joy of moving faster, listening, and seeing better than I can.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Self-doubt? Neurotic overthinking? Quiet obsessiveness?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Impatience. Anger/rage. A lack of awareness in the moment. The ability to achieve empathy most often only through distance (books, reflection).
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Self-involvement at the expense of other people.
What do your friends say about you behind your back?
Why does he always talk about poetry? Why is he so self-involved? I don’t know and want to know desperately and don’t want to know out of a pure dread.
Who are your favorite heroes or heroines in fiction?
Levin. Mersualt. Hector in that one scene when he visits his family before returning to battle. Clarissa Dalloway. Hamlet. Ophelia. José Arcadio Buendía. Sethe. Max Morden. Gogol Ganguli. Anna Karenina. The narrator of The Mezzanine. Jack the Bear. The As I Lay Dying family. The Judge. Sula. Raskolnikov. Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. Richard II. Mercutio. the kid. Billy Parham. Ahab. Hardy’s Jude. Vladimir and Estragon. Jane Eyre. Tess. Holden Caulfield. Everyone else I am forgetting.
What fictional characters do you most dislike?
The flat. The poorly written. Those who never become who they are supposed to be on the page.
Who are your favorite musicians?
Sam Beam. Death Cab for Cutie. Glen Hansard and the Frames. John Coltrane. After that it is just individual songs.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My wife. My kids. Students. Sam Green. Spencer Reece. Thich Nhat Hahn. Shunryu Suzuki. Several of my colleagues. Emily Dickinson. Tolstoy. John Brown. Anyone who is authentically themselves and gives beyond themselves in some way.
What talent do you wish you had?
Oh, to sing. To be more awake each moment and therefore more empathetic. To know what to do in more parenting situations.
What is your present state of mind?
On what occasions do you lie?
To spare feelings.
What historical figure do you most identify with?
John Brown. Emily Dickinson.
What is your favorite journey?
The first 19 and last .2 miles of a 26.2 mile run.
What living person do you most despise?
In a given moment anyone consumed by greed enough to do any level of harm to others, but upon reflection I find it hard to despise anyone as even the most vile acts are acted out by humans who suffer and make mistakes.
What is your greatest fear?
That Cormac McCarthy is right about us. Losing my family. Drones.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Books. Running shoes. Gifts for my wife and children (I can’t say no).
What is your greatest hope?
That Cormac McCarthy is wrong about us.
What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty, authenticity, and the ability to help me take myself less seriously.
Who are your favorite writers?
An impossible question. Here is a list of writers essential to me as a reader and writer both as models and continued inspiration, folks I must re-read to feel normal: Emily Dickinson, Albert Camus, Seamus Heaney, Sam Green, Spencer Reece, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Linda Gregg, Jane Kenyon, Wallace Stevens, William Stafford, Robert Wrigley, Jack Gilbert, Deborah Digges, Virginia Woolf, Erin Belieu, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Rilke, Jane Austen, Henri Cole, Jhumpa Lhairi, W. B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, John Banville, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
What is your motto?
From William Stafford: “awake people should be awake.”
From Phillip Larkin: “We must be careful of each other/ we must be kind while there is still time.”
From Sam Hamill: “That is the real work—
reading books or bucking wood
or washing babies—
attentive lives all our days:
the real joy is gratitude.”