February 10, 2016

Tour Day: Jamieson Wolf and the Smokescreen of Story

Today Foreplay and Fangs welcomes Jamieson Wolf, author of Dancing With the Flame.

Jamieson has been writing since a young age when he realized he could be writing instead of paying attention in school. Since then, he has created many worlds in which to live his fantasies and live out his dreams.
He is a Number One Best Selling Author (He likes to tell people that a lot) and writes in many different genre’s. Jamieson is also an accomplished artist. He works in mixed media, charcoal and pastels. He is also something of an amateur photographer, a poet and graphic designer. 
He currently lives in Ottawa Ontario Canada with his cat, Tula, who is fearless. 
Jamieson Wolf
The Smokescreen of Story

I am first and foremost a storyteller.
I’ve written many novels of varying different genres including romance, erotica, sci-fi, horror, young adult and so on. I love telling stories and always let the characters dictate what they’re going to do. I get writers block otherwise.
Writing a novel has some main components though: character, plot, an antagonist, a protagonist and perhaps some deus ex machina thrown in. It’s told in chapters, vignettes, paragraphs and sentences.
Every author puts themselves into the story somehow-maybe as a character or a plot line that resembles something that happened in their lives. Writers are comfortable behind the smokescreen of story
Poetry takes all of that and throws it out the window.
Good poetry is all about the poet. Without the smokescreen of story, he or she bares their soul on the page. There is no hiding behind a character and letting them speak for you. Instead, you have to speak for yourself. Quite often, your words have to speak for you.
For me, writing poetry is about delving deep into something I’m trying to figure out and letting it fall across the page. I assemble the words until they somehow fit together and say what they have to say.
However, I take things a step further. As I said, I’m first and foremost a storyteller. So when I began writing poetry, I wondered if it would be possible to tell stories in poems. They could be like little, mini chapters, each of them a stepping stone towards the whole picture.
So sometimes, my poems have multiple speakers engaging in a conversation, or talking throughout the poem until it reaches its end. That way I’m telling stories, only in a different way.
I used poetry to find my voice and to heal myself. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2013. I thought I was okay with it. I was born with Cerebral Palsy so what was a disease on top of a disability? I could deal with this.
Turned out I wasn’t doing very well. I had to learn to walk, talk and type again. When I began to write once more, there were too many words in my head that wanted to come out all at once. I needed to quiet them down, give the words focus.
Poetry seemed a natural fit for what I needed to do.
There is no smokescreen, so my poems touched on subjects that I’ve never dealt with in my novels: disability, sexuality, how I was trying to heal myself from my past and somehow embrace my future. Most of all, I wrote into those poems what it was like to come to terms and accept what my body had become.
In the end my poetry became a way for me to find balance, a way to find hope. As I got better and my life changed, so did my poems, yet they were all filled with light and hope in some way.
Here’s one of the poems from my newest collection. It’s one of my favourites. It was about something that happened to me and I wanted to get it down, to remember it in some way:

A Man Remembered
There was a sea
of police cars in
front of my building.
They dotted the pavement,
their lights shining like
flowers caught in the snow.
Entering my building,
I saw a stretcher in front
of the elevators. It was
red and empty. I wondered
what had happened,
if someone was hurt.
I saw the Super standing
by the elevators, as if lost.
He looked unreachable.
I moved towards him,
called his name softly so
that he would hear me.
I had the sense something
was very wrong indeed.
He looked up at me,
hearing my approach.
“What’s wrong? What happened?”
My voice seemed loud,
echoing off the lobby walls,
the lobby itself somehow
bigger than it was.
When he raise his eyes to mine,
they were red and swollen,
tears having dried upon his face,
marking his skin like ink.
“You know the man downstairs?”
He asked me. His voice was cracked
and dry, as if he had forgotten
how to speak. I shook my head,
unsure of who he meant.
“He wasn’t well. Very paranoid. He’d changed his locks so no one could get in.”
I was silent, not sure what to say;
not sure there was anything
that could be said. The Super
let out a sound that was
part breath of release
and part sob. He took a
deep breath and I imagined him
swallowing the sob, as if
taking it back into him.
“I’ve never seen a dead body. People were complaining about the smell.”
I found my voice, a small
quiet part of it that slipped
past my lips
“Didn’t anyone know him? Any family? Someone must have known him.”
The Super shook his head,
more tears sliding down his
face in the tracks left
by the ones that had dried.
“He didn’t have anyone. He was alone.”
The sob broke free then and he
turned away for a moment.
When he turned back, he was
more composed, holding it together.
“You always hear about this in the movies, you know? This doesn’t feel like a movie.”
I nodded, my voice having gone again.
I needed to get away, to feel the
cool air upon my face.
As I walked out of my building,
I watched the blue and red lights
make patterns on the snow.
I breathed in the air,
relishing its bite,
grateful that I was alive
to feel it upon my skin.
When I walked back into my building,
they were bringing the stretcher
out of the elevator. This time,
it wasn’t empty. This time,
the man lay upon it,
encased in a cocoon. It reminded me
of a red chrysalis.
I stood to the side as
other men took the man outside
and away from me.
I watched him go and wondered
why there was no one that
would find out about him,
no one who would miss him,
mourn his passing, no one
who would remember him
for the man that he used to be.
I gave the Super a final nod,
which he returned, before
going back inside my apartment.
Once inside, gathered some sage
that I had purchased.
I said a short prayer for him
and hoped that he could hear me.
“I just want you to know that even though we never met, I’ll remember you.”
I took a breath then and
lit the sage, watching the flakes
turn into fragrant smoke.
“You’re free now. Free. So be at peace. I’ll remember you.”
As I watched the smoke
from the sage float towards the ceiling,
I pictured his spirit,
free from the chrysalis of his body.
I pictured his spirit.
He had finally grown wings
so that he could fly
home. I watched the sage
burn out.
“I’ll remember you,”
I said.

Poems can be about anything. They give you an endless kind of freedom and there is no right way to write one. You simply have to remove the smokescreen of story and let your true self, your inner self, out to dance across the page.

Following the Number One Best Sellers, Talking to the Sky and Walking on the Earth, Dancing with the Flame contains poems that are part memoir and part journey towards self-love.

They are Wolf’s attempt to not only find balance but to love all parts of himself, even those that are most difficult to love.

They are a testament to the strength of the human spirit. The poems show us that whatever life throws at us, with courage anything is possible.

With unflinching honesty, Wolf talks about disease, sexuality, physical disability and the healing power of love.

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