An Interview with Jeannine Hall Gailey

  • What’s your favorite thing you have written?

That’s a tough one! I really love the current series I’m writing of Cassandra poems, I loved my first book which I worked so long on, starting in my twenties and ending when it was published at 32. I love my essays because that’s a different and more challenging form for me. This latest book Is my most vulnerable, which makes me feel like It’s also more risky. I confess I love “Calamity,” one of the first poems In Flare, Corona, which I wrote right before the pandemic and was published a few months later In Poetry – In April, 2020, right as the pandemic was sinking In.

  • What’s your favorite thing that someone else has written?

I have so many favorites! As a kid I loved Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, I loved T.S. Eliot’s  The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, I loved Rita Dove’s Parsley. Poets I’ve loved for a long time: Lucille Clifton, Louise Gluck, Margaret Atwood. More recently: Dana Levin, Beth Ann Fennelly, Melissa Studdard, Marie Howe, Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Farris, Jericho Brown, Kelli Russell Agodon, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Don Mee Choi, Denise Duhamel, Dorianne Laux, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Lesley Wheeler. More than I can list here!

As far as fiction, I love Kelly Link, Yoko Ogawa, Margaret Atwood, Siri Hustvedt, Aoko Matsuda, Terry Windling, Karen Blixen, Haruki Murakami, Donna Tartt, Barbara Bourland is a new author I really enjoy. I’m a sucker for a good speculative short story.

  • What are you working on writing now?

I have more than one book project In process, but that may change as I write them. I’m thinking of combining poems with lyric essays, with the theme of “survival,” but It’s just In progress right now. I’m always writing, but I don’t always see the end game for each poem as I write It.

  • Do you have a favorite food or drink that helps you write?

Haribo gummi bears and string cheese. Yep, like a college student, basically. A lot of ginger cranberry honey tea.

  • What’s your favorite kind of music?

I love all kinds of music, but I confess a nostalgia for the music I loved In my teens and twenties. I have loved Aimee Mann since I listened to Til Tuesday albums In sixth grade, Prince, Cyndi Lauper, Queen, David Bowie. The Cure, Led Zeppelin, some of the Grateful Dead. I also love Johnny Cash (thanks to my dad) and a lot of Motown and Jimi Hendrix (thanks to my mom.) More recently, I listen to a lot of Rufus and Martha Wainwright, The Lumineers, the Civil Wars, and a lot of bands that sound like bands I liked In the eighties and nineties.

  • Forest, country, beach, or city?

Definitely mountains and forests. The Pacific Northwest offers mountains, oceans, lakes, waterfalls, and enough city life to satisfy almost anyone, but I grew up In the Tennessee mountains, and so the mountains are still where I go to feel the most myself.

  • What movie can you watch over and over again?

Oh, a lot of them! Casablanca, Joe vs. the Volcano, It Happened One Night, Philadelphia Story, the Thin Man movies, When Harry Met Sally, Julie and Julia, Christmas In Connecticut, How to Marry a Millionaire, Sabrina, Roman Holiday. A lot of film noir. And all of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies, particularly Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Totoro. Plus goofy MST3K movies like Killer Shrews and I Accuse My Parents – I often watch those to go to sleep.

  • What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

Being an Indie author Is a grind, and often a labor of love. You have to do a lot of your own heavy lifting in terms of promotion – that’s why I wrote the book “PR for Poets.”

On the other hand, I’m friends with almost all of my publishers, and I love the people you meet In the process – publishing folks, lit mag editors, bookstore owners and workers – all the book lovers out there. Teenagers who just started writing poets; older people writing their first poems. I mean, there’s a lot of poetry love out there, but I think It’s In a lot of unrecognized places.

  • When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I had several dreams, Including becoming a poet, but also rock star, race horse jockey, a professor, a doctor (made It through pre-med before I realized my body was not going to be healthy enough to make It through the grind of (still very able-Ist) medical school. In my most vivid daydreams, I saw myself In a New York apartment, with writer friends drinking champagne. My life’s a little different, but I do live In Washington’s wine country, so the champagne part with writer friends still works!

  • What does the writing process look like for you?

I often write late at night, at home, but It also happens In car dealerships, In doctor’s offices, even at poetry readings!

  • Do you have a blog and what content do you post?

I do! I’ve been blogging, shockingly, since 2003 – so about twenty years. I talk about the poetry life, yes, but also birds, flowers, travel, health stuff. Check It out at  

  • Where do you get inspiration?

Everywhere! Pop culture, movies, comic books, and often speculative fiction – I love reading Japanese and French fiction In translation, In particular. Of course my life has offered me plenty of drama to write about as well.

  • What about writing do you enjoy the most?

The way It takes you out of yourself. I enjoy being In the “flow” of writing a poem or two. And It’s always nice, after the work Is out In the world, when people tell you that a certain poem or piece connected with them.

  • What is the most challenging part of writing for you?

A big part of getting published In submitting, and a big part of submitting Is rejection. I hate, hate, hate grant writing, even though It can be an Important part of succeeding as a writer. But I just don’t enjoy the bureaucracy parts of being a writer.

  •  How have you grown as a writer?

How can we tell we’ve grown? I don’t really have an answer for that! I wrote my first poems when I was around 7 and I just turned 50. I still feel my goals for writing are the same – trying to write something exciting, fun to read, something that makes people think. How to share the unique parts of me with the world. I guess editing gets easier as you go along, and rejection, though It still stings, doesn’t really stop you.

6 Comments on “An Interview with Jeannine Hall Gailey

  1. I can so relate to Jeannine’s description of her writing process. I cracked up to her “…it also happens in car dealerships.” I actually wrote three chapters in one of my science fiction novels in a car dealership while they tinkered with brakes on my aging but seemingly indestructible go-buggy. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Keep writing, Jeannine. You have more to say, and your legion of fans are hungry for more.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Flare, Corona by Jeannine Hall Gailey (May-June 2023) |

  4. Pingback: The Open Books Flare, Corona Reading, Interviews and Podcasts, Family Health Emergencies, Broken Teeth and @ Webbish6

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