Jason D. Ramsey has a creative capacity and reach that is wide and unstoppable. I’ve been enriched by Jason’s generous friendship for many years through his online arts community Altarworks, and most recently through his literary initiative Barren Magazine. It’s amazing to me how connected you can feel to someone without ever meeting in person, and so it is with Jason.
Jason lives halfway between Detroit and Chicago, and serves as Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Barren Magazine. His essays and poems can be found in Parentheses Journal, Tilde Literary Journal, After the Pause, Isacoustic, and more. Jason is also a visual storyteller.
Thanks for making time in your full life to join our poetry party, Jason.
Lesley-Anne: We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?
Jason: I take too little time as it is for the important things in life. I’m always on the go. My mind is always racing. I manage a respiratory care department at a regional hospital in Michigan, run Barren Magazine, and have five kids under 13 at home, so I stay plenty busy. The current world challenges weigh heavily on me. Not just the coronavirus pandemic, which I am in the thick of, but all of the world challenges. I can’t be on Facebook for more than five seconds without being saddened or disgusted. With that said, though, I am spending what little free time I have differently. Instead of being wrapped up in whatever the latest news articles spew out, I’ve been spending more quality time with my kids. It has been cold, but we’ve played ball in the yard, played board games, worked on schoolwork together. I feel like, somehow, we’ve grown closer as a family as a result.
Lesley-Anne: Why is poetry/art important?
Jason: Poetry, like all art forms, is a way for us to express the profundities of life in ways that challenge us. In particular, poetry is among the most emotional art forms. It’s is also one of the most difficult. It’s hard to find something new to say in an original way. Poets have always tried to be one step ahead of everyone else in terms of worldview, whether successful or not. I believe a new wave of great poetry will surface from our current world state. It has to. It’s intrinsic in our human nature. It’s our life blood. It’s all around us, not just as pretty words on a page. It’s our first thought when we look at a newborn; the air we breathe when we’re walking outside; the hands that raise in protest; the hands we lower in love.
Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?
Jason: One surprising thing that happened to me today was my oldest son’s attitude when I laid out his new 6th grade online classwork. Michigan schools are closed until fall, but our district is moving forward with online learning. He’s in 6th grade, and he has to juggle six classes. Middle school has been a rough transition for him, and he has had a very challenging last few months. Ironically, the poem I’ve included here is about him, last summer, when we were on vacation in the Appalachian mountains. The poem is mostly true in detail, but completely true in message. He has battled depression, ADHD, ODD, and more for years now. Getting him to do his schoolwork is often the hardest part of my day. But, tonight we sat down, went through his material, and organized things to set him up for success. He even found some joy in it. And we bonded a bit. Now, that’s poetry.
You can find Jason online at:
This has been a lovely visit, and we will leave one another now with your poem, ‘In the Blue Hue of Morning’ as it was published in Parentheses Journal (Fall 2019). Thanks so much for spending time with us today, Jason.
Stay safe, and blessings for the care you lavish on bodies and souls,