Jessica Sarlin

“I knew immediately that I wanted to feature Jessica’s poem ‘Hey You’ because it lifted me up when I needed it, like a sublime speech given in haste but with incredible depth to an army about to march. Creating can be pain, and often we fail to meet our own expectations. But as Jessica says, how ‘LIFE-LIKE’.” — Jaime Dill, editor for Cardigan Press

What genres/age ranges do you typically gravitate toward in your writing?

I gravitate towards anything offbeat, silly, and slightly dark. It’s so much easier to stay passionate about an idea if it appeals to your inner reader. My inner reader loves Vonnegut, Faulkner and George Saunders, but she also loves Bugs Bunny.

My fiction work is goofy and a bit subversive. My non-fiction work is introspective and bittersweet. This doesn’t feel like a contradiction to me—it feels like balance. Right now, I’m concentrating on picture books and graphic novels for kids.

In what ways is your poem in Byline Legacies similar and/or different from your usual writing?

I’m a chronic over-sharer, so I think most of my essays and poems tend to reflect this impulse to bare things, to dig in the dirt.

This particular poem is even more personal than my typical work because I’m writing about my own vulnerable creative process. It’s a cry for help, in a way: “HEY, YOU!”

With this poem, I’m venting my frustration at what can be a hidden aspect of the creative life. Making art for a living requires so much more perseverance and grit than I originally counted on, and I’m hoping that someone else, out there in the dark, feels that too and empathizes.

How else can readers best support you at this time?

I have a picture book dummy that I am shopping around, SERGIO, THE WORLD’S GREATEST DUNG BEETLE CHEF. It’s a book about reality television, fine cuisine, family traditions and, um, poo. I won an author mentorship for this story in 2019, and I’m hopeful it will be traditionally published. In the meantime, I’m working on other projects, including:

PENGUIN BOSS (picture book): Tess’ new office manager is an actual penguin. The smelly herring, the thermostat battles, and new dress code initiatives were inconvenient enough (Black tie? Really?). Now, he’s got her managing a weird side project – an egg that won’t stop rolling around.

DR. WINESTOCK’S WITCH-INFESTED ARTIFACTS (graphic novel): Are your vintage items malfunctioning in ways you would categorize as ‘whimsical?’ You may have a witch-infested artifact on your hands. Dr. Winestock has devoted his life to cataloging these unfortunate objects and clucking his tongue sharply at these tiny witches and their penchant for irreverent upcycling.

Curious folks can find me on Instagram or Twitter.

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