Jonathan K. Rice is founding editor and publisher of Iodine Poetry Journal, which is in its fifteenth year of publication. In 2002 he co-edited the chapbook, Celebrating Life, a project funded by Barnes & Noble in celebration of National Poetry Month and in memory of Dorothy Perry Thompson, noted poet and instructor at Winthrop University. He is the author of a chapbook Shooting Pool with a Cellist (Main Street Rag, 2003) and a full-length collection, Ukulele and Other Poems (Main Street Rag, 2006). His poetry has also appeared in numerous publications and he has been a longtime host of poetry readings in Charlotte, where he lives with his family. In 2012 he received the Irene Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award for outstanding service in support of local and regional writers, awarded by Central Piedmont Community College.
Jonathan will take part in a Panel Discussion, “Creating a Poetry Community,” with Scott Owens, at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2014 Fall Conference, November 21-23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel. As romantic (and Romantic) as the image of the solitary poet may be, the reality is that most poets need to be part of a community. A poetry community can help its members hone their craft, find their muse, take advantage of opportunities, and overcome the discouragements that all writers face. Scott Owens and Jonathan K. Rice have spent years building poetry communities through magazines, readings, open mics, and more. They will talk about their experiences, answer your questions, and share tips on how to come together with your fellow poets.
What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out that you wish they had?
Rejection is just part of the process of writing, getting published, and as a catalyst for revision.
Did you have a teacher or mentor who had a big, positive impact on you?
I had an English teacher in high school who was also my Latin teacher. She encouraged me more than anyone I’ve ever had since. She had a huge impact on me as a teenager, because she believed in me.
Who is your literary hero?
Walker Percy. I was blown away by his first novel, The Moviegoer. I read it in college and could not get enough of Percy’s work after that. His novels were philosophical, Southern and Catholic influenced, among other things. They made me think. He was forty-six when his first novel was published in 1961. It won the National Book Award that year.
If you could live in any literary world for the rest of your life, where would you find yourself?
Black Mountain College in the 1940s and 1950s. Instructors during this time period included Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and artists Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell, among many other prestigious writers and artists.
If you could have written one book that someone else wrote, which book would it be?
A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Many writers are solitary creatures. Coming to an event like Fall Conference can be a little intimidating, navigating the exhibit hall and ballroom events. Any advice for working the room?
Breathe. Relax. Be yourself.
Who gave the best reading or talk you've ever been to? What made it so good?
Gwendolyn Brooks gave a reading at Wingate University many years ago. She had a powerful voice with a powerful life story. I will never forget it.
Any advice for attendees who sign up for the Open Mic?
The microphone is your friend. Speak into the microphone. Don’t eat it. Don’t turn away from it while speaking. Greet the audience by introducing yourself. You can gauge the sound level by doing this. Project your voice. Keep comments to a minimum. If you have to explain what you’re about to read, read something else. Pace yourself. Don’t read something so long that you have to read it quickly to stay within the time limit. Don’t read a piece too slowly either.
The city of Charlotte was founded on two established Native American trading routes. Now, of course, it's the 2nd biggest banking center in the country. Fall Conference will boast an exhibit hall packed with vendors. How do you approach an exhibit hall at a conference such as this? To shop, to chat, or both?
Both. I like meeting people. But I also want to support independent publishers as much as I can. As a publisher myself, working as a vendor I always get questioned about submission guidelines. I always tell poets though, if they want to know what we publish, they should buy my journal. That supports what we do.
They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but of course most of us do. What is one—or some—of your favorite book cover(s)?
I have always liked J.D. Salinger’s book covers. They’ve always appealed to me.
What do you hope attendees takeaway from the conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop, panel, or Mart?
I hope that they come away with a better understanding of the creative process and the mechanics of getting published, but also energized with a fresh spirit of creativity.
What is your guilty pleasure read?
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
What makes you cringe when you see it on the page?
Poetry that’s centered on the page.
Caffeine of choice? (English Breakfast, Caramel macchiato, etc.)
Strong black coffee.
Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference opens Wednesday, September 3, at www.ncwriters.org.