Welcome to another installment of WWTA. Over the course of the semester, we’re going to be interviewing the writers who make up the first class of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
This week we talk to Jacqueline Kirkpatrick over email. She received her B.A. in English from SUNY Albany in 2004. Jacqueline was raised in “South of Albany” in a small town that “needs no mention as it’s any small town anywhere.” She describes herself as “a student, writer, reader and mother.” Jacqueline writes a lot of poetry, short fiction, and creative non-fiction and is obsessed with the Beats. She can’t write unless she’s listening to music. “I love Coltrane, Ottis Redding, Sam & Dave, and my favorite music to write to is the Grateful Dead. Oh, and I still use a typewriter.”
What drew you to the MFA program?
I have been stalking MFA programs for years. I was afraid to commit and found a million reasons not to, but the biggest reason was that there was nothing near me. I could do a low-res in VT or commute over an hour but neither of those options would work as I have a child, a full time job, and I like my schooling “in person”. When Saint Rose announced their program I couldn’t help but jump at the chance.
What or who inspires you to write?
The Beat Generation are my biggest inspiration. From the first time I read Kerouac at fifteen, I was changed as a writer, and more importantly, as a reader. I love the raw purity that they wrote with. I am also turned on by their ability to ‘write life’. No detail, even sharing tea with someone, was forgotten. Everything was passionate and furious.
Who is your favorite author?
Without hesitation it’s Jack Kerouac. However, it would not be fair to leave out Plath or Fitzgerald, as they first opened me up. Without their wildness, and ability, I don’t know I would have been able to take Kerouac in the same way. I am reading (at this point re-reading) a Kerouac all the time.
What do you hope to accomplish by the time you graduate?
I hope to have written a lot as well as get introduced to methods, literature and ideas outside of myself. For years I have focused on one period, one core group of writers, and I’m ready to be shaken up. I need some spice. I also hope to gain a network of writers that I can call on for help, advice, and brainstorming.
What are your long-term goals for writing?
I would love to publish but I think the goal I’ve had for years and still have is to teach. I would love to talk about what I love with others to inspire, and I’d love the ability to share ideas to be inspired. I always want to know more, and I always want to give what I know. I think talking writers, and writing, would be the dream job. I do it all day, every day anyway, wouldn’t it be a blast to get paid for it?
What was the last good book you’ve read?
One and Only: The Untold Story of On the Road by Nicosia and Santos – loved it. It’s the story of Neal Cassady’s first wife, Luanne Henderson, a 15-year-old girl (known as Marylou in On the Road) thrown into the mess that was madmen writers, and their obsessions. What I love is that it is in her voice as it’s a transcript from an interview with her. She is real, beautiful, sad, and unapologetic for who she was, what she chose, and where she ended up. If you love On the Road, Neal and Jack, or just love strong, amazing women, then I’d recommend it.