Bára Interviews Jenna Velez

It was a pleasure to talk poetry, sensations, and magic with poet Jenna Velez! Make sure to light a candle, put on some smooth sounds, and explore her work.

Jenna Velez is an emerging queer Latinx poet from suburban Philadelphia. Her work has been featured or forthcoming in over a dozen literary journals. She is a columnist at Pussy Magic Press and contributing reader for Awkward Mermaid Lit Mag. Her work explores themes of trauma, identity, spirituality, and relationships that embody both the grotesque and the beautiful. She tweets @northernbruja and can be found at jennavelez.weebly.com

What is your favourite sensation or texture?

My favorite texture is anything Sherpa, blankets, jackets. I'm always cold so that fabric is my lifesaver. As far as sensation, I am a huge ASMR fan. I watch it everyday, it's weird but it works.

What do you see as the relationships between sexuality and poetry, body and literature?

What do you see as the relationships between sexuality and poetry, body and literature?

I think the body is poetry. You read your partner like a book, every curve and angle. You're learning and cherishing. Literature or our writing is called a "body of work" for a reason. There are few things more beautiful, pleasurable, and holy than the human form, sexuality, especially queer sexuality, and poetry.

How do your poetic and magic practices interact? Do you have any practices for coming into a poetic space?

With my magic, you write and read spells all the time. Spells are just poems, imbued with magic and intention. Poems, in that same way, are spells. When we do readings we are lacing our words with intention and breathing life. Every poet is a necromancer. As far as putting myself in a special space to write, atmosphere is important to me in the same way that my ritual spaces are. There's always some sort of witchy music, candles burning. 

Your work can be brutal and bloody, yet demands beauty and respect. How does language transform rage, trauma, and passion?

Language is a lens for us to tangibly see feelings and experiences that feel blurry, blind with rage, or dirty in the best ways. Poetry has allowed me to let people possess my body for a few minutes. These strong phenomena like trauma or passion are like anxiety vs. feeling anxious. Everyone understands traumatic and passionate feelings, just like how everyone knows what it feels like to be anxious. But not everyone has anxiety, just like not everyone has experienced a trauma, or a passion that consumes your body and soul like a fire. It's a generalization, but language closes that gap. My experiences have been vulgar, disgusting, painful, pleasurable, violent. It's important to me that those are never lost in my work, but it's equally important to make sure that it's not for shock value. I write honestly and brutally, and I'd like to think that's where the beauty comes from, being unapologetic.

What visions birth your work? As in, where is poetry now, in this time, in your space? Where does it lead to?

Living life earnestly, scabs in the sun, blood under my nails, and not giving a fuck is a constant aspiration where my work is born from. Poetry is a lover, and we argue, fight, scream, spit, set fires to our bed. But we fuck like rabbits, and we love. That's how I see my life coexisting with writing. I hope it leads to a happy marriage and children. For me, just having had one poem published was a huge dream of mine. I never define success in my writing journey because I never expected to be here, having people read my work. That has been the most liberating, everything is a surprise so I just go with the flow and see where my words take me.

What is your favorite thing to do on the full moon?

Every full moon I put all my magical items into the moonlight to charge. Recently I've put my journals and pens out as well, to let these tools soak up that pure energy, and in turn help the writing process be as pure as possible. I also meditate by the window, and surround myself with lavender for sleep spells.

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