Janet Kuypers is a Chicago native. She started her college education as a computer science engineer (at the third highest engineering school in the U.S.), but wrote and took pictures so much she changed her major to News/Editorial Journalism and focused on graphic arts (with a straight A equivalent of a minor in photography).
Through her early adulthood, Janet Kuypers also worked as an acquaintance rape workshop facilitator, not only running lectures and seminars but also designing brochures, flyers, and newspaper advertising for an acquaintance rape group.
Janet Kuypers worked as an art director, photographer, and webmaster in downtown Chicago; during this time she also started Scars Publications, and the literary magazine cc&d (“Children, Churches and Daddies”, byline, “the UN-religious, NON-family oriented literary and art magazine”, named after a poem about the dysfunctionality of those things at times). Since then it has expanded with another magazine (originally “Down in the Dirt” mag was a supplement section within cc&d); now Scars books are sold through Amazon in the U.S., the U.K., and Europe, and Janet Kuypers CD tracks have sold in over 55 countries).
After successful work in Chicago, Janet Kuypers quit her job (and kept paying for her Chicago apartment) while she traveled around the country by car with her roommate, which was a fantastic experience, but after she returned, while driving to visit her parents, she was stopped at an intersection and hit by multiple cars. She was in a coma for 11 days; it took days for her to breathe on her own, and she had to relearn how to walk and talk and eat. However, medics on multiple floors of the hospital (the same one she was born in) watched her records and nicknamed her “miracle girl” because of her speedy recovery (they let Janet Kuypers leave the hospital at a mere 6 weeks only because she was moving into her parent’s house).
LaterJanet Kuypers met her now-husband, John. (They dated for 3 months, were engaged for over a year, and have been married 17.5 years now – happily.)
Back in Chicago, Janet Kuypers took over and restructured a Chicago poetry/short prose and music and performance art open mic (The Cafe Gallery), that was the only venue in Chicago that had weekly YouTube videos and a weekly podcast (and eventually a collection book of select features, titled “The Chosen Few”).
Because of John’s job change, they moved to Austin Texas in October 2015, and since then Janet Kuypers has been doing monthly performance art shows as well as readings (and occasional singing) at multiple venues in the Austin area.
Your real name?
Please share some of the best memories of your childhood
Best memories of my childhood? I don’t know… I remember swimming like mad when I was little, or of how me and my best friend (since I was 3 years old) and neighbor would be cold and wet outside, how my mom would turn on the clothes dryer, which would shoot out hot air right next to the back door, so we would huddle by the vent and warm up and dry off before we went inside. Or how me and my friend, when she would spend the night, how we’d take dowel rods for posts to make tents out of our twin beds, and we’d user LED calculators for light in our little tents to play in the dark before we fell asleep. (Wow, now all of the fun stories are flooding to my head.) In our playroom they kept the deep freezer, and when (sometimes) there would be chocolate ice cream in there, we’d jokingly say that we should go to “John’s Ice Cream Parlor”, and one of us would stand by the door and cough when the other one opened the freezer, so then we’d have access to as much ice cream as we wanted.
I have friends from different groups in high school, though were either in the drama group or the G.P.A. group… which is why it was funny that I got one of my stoner friends in junior high school to wear a Wham! Band inspired “Choose Life” style t-shirts with me. What a riot
About your education?
When you were growing up, it wasn’t cool to admit you were smart, but learning came easily to me. Because I didn’t hate teachers, other kids thought I was a teacher’s pet and made WAY too much fun of me for it in my early years. Before I got into high school, I was taking advanced computer programming classes in my spare time, which I continued throughout high school (while excelling in math), and I get into the third best University in the country for computer science engineering (which was a feat for a female too). I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I really knew math and loved how it could explain so much about the world. I was ahead of everyone I knew in computer science, and I figured that computer science was going to be a HUGE field in the future (with the potential for making a ton of money), so this is where I thought it was smartest to go.
When I was 9 I had my first written poem “Under the Sea”, published in Read magazine, and I continued writing poetry — but in high school, I not only wrote in my spare time but also started taking more and more photos (including portrait photography). Consider it my creative outlet, when I otherwise dove so heavily into math and computer programming language courses.
The first thing I noticed “on my own” in college was how life was no longer about excelling at your work, but about rampant sexism — I saw how women were objectified regularly, and more importantly, I now saw (more commonly than I did in high school) how women were raped, usually by the men they started dating. Suddenly I saw a cause for womankind, and it was (as odd as this sounds, because it shouldn’t need explaining) that woman should be treated the same way as men in the classroom and in the workplace, that women deserve the same opportunities as men when they have the same intelligence and ability, and that (this is a big one, folks) that no matter how a woman dresses, it shouldn’t turn men into slobbering hormonal animals who feel it is their moral imperative to sexually abuse women (or to sexually degrade women because of how they “think” women are behaving).
What career did you plan during your education days?
I was good in math, and I was way ahead of any of my classmates in computer language courses, so I assumed the worlds “computer science engineer” would remain a part of my life as I grew up. And in college, I took courses for my future engineering degree, and although my grades were fine I found myself completely miserable with my life. I found myself writing poetry and taking pictures more, and I then remembered one assignment I did last-minute for my high school senior year English class.
You see, in my senior year of high school, my first-period class was Advanced Physics, where I usually remembered and completed my second-period Advanced English class homework. One time my last-minute English assignment to complete was that we were supposed to write a letter to ourselves as if we were 64 years old (and yeah, I’m positive this English teacher was thinking of the Beatles’ song “When I’m 64” when she gave us this assignment). I think everyone wrote a letter to themselves about what a perfect life they led, and I may have started my letter the same way, but I had a little twist at the end that went something like this:
You’ve done well for yourself, you’re married, you both make a ton of money and you’ve got a nice house with the white picket fence, the whole nine yards. But I know how you work, and you’ve been working so hard to get ahead that you aren’t home enough to enjoy your home.
And I know that a part of you also works so hard to also get away from the man you married — you found a man from high school that wasn’t right for you, but you thought would be right for this “perfect” life you wanted to portray to the rest of the world. So you’ve got this life you think you wanted, but you don’t love the man you’re married to, and you do your work not because you love it, but because it makes you a ton of money. Yeah, you’ve got the life that everyone else envies. But are you happy?
You used to write poetry, and you used to take pictures. I’m sure that camera bag of yours is in the back of the closet; maybe you should find it and start seeing the world differently again. And you know, that desk of yours has paper and pen — maybe you should sit down and write. Go back to the things that truly make you happy again.
So I handed in my letter like everyone else (though mine was so last-minute), and the next day at the end of English class the teacher (who happened to have the same first name as me) asked me to come up to her desk. Once the last student left, the teacher said that when she read my letter, she thought she could have written for herself. (It was also spooky that I shared her first name.) She then told me to not let that happen to me, to do what I really wanted to do in my life.
And I guess that stuck with me, so when I looked at what I was doing I decided to change majors from engineering to news-editorial journalism (where I could learn about people, write, and maybe take photos).
Throughout the rest of my schooling, I continued with the work, was on the honor roll, made the Dean’s List, and got the equivalent of a straight-A minor in photography. While working for the local newspaper, I also took photos and even was a portrait photographer for Fraternities for their yearbook photos.
While in school in my spare time (because I took women’s issues courses and did research for an Acquaintance Rape Education group) I started running lectures for acquaintance rape education as well as designing flyers, brochures and newspaper ads for awareness. Because my friends knew I was doing this work, more and more friends came to me to share with me their stories of being raped or attacked, or even stories from male friends telling me they realized they raped a girl at a frat party. (I even wrote about these issues in my poem “Burn It In”) So, if I were to gain a “mission” at an early age, women’s rights seem to be begging me to help try to make things fair in society for women.
What languages can you speak and write?
English. I took Spanish for a few years, and French even more minimally, but (like most Americans, it seems) English is my only language I know well. In recent years, with travel around the world (and with people who speak different languages), I have worked on translating some of my writing into other languages. In one project, I had a number of poems translated into Slovak. Eighteen of them back be found in the poetry links at my writings vault at scars (http:// scars.tv/kuypers/writing.htm) — and, many of them also link that they were publ9ished in a few books, and some of them (in both English and Slovak) were also nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Also, in a 2012 poetry show, I did in Chicago with live music from the HA!Man of South Africa (Francois Le Roux, a man who I have performed live annually since 2009 and with whom I have released a multi-CD set of my poetry with his music titled “Burn Through Me”), I edited a longer poem of mine, “Communication 2012”, where I bring up sharing my work in other languages, and then sing the chorus line of my song “What We Need in Life” in different languages
Serbian, and Afrikaans).
What is your biggest source of inspiration in life? What is the force that drives you?
My inspiration? I guess that would be how my mind processes the things I see and hear around me.
That sounds terse, so let me explain. I look for inspiration everywhere I go: because of my family history with concrete construction and with my brother’s (and all us Dutch people’s) love as architecture, I adore high-rises/skyscrapers and use them not only in photography (you can see an entire photographic section about Shanghai architecture, as well as buildings from around the world in my first major art book, “L’arte”). Or I may to go any locations related to nature (like Arches National Park or Bryce Canyon or the Grand Canyon, or even Yellowstone National Park) to commune with the world and get away from humanity. Sometimes I even like the see the combination of both nature and humanity, so I would retreat in Golden, Colorado by driving up the mountain on the way to Buffalo Bill’s gravesite, but I would stop at the first pull-off exist and sit out of the way of the road up the mountain to watch the traffic below the mountain driving by. (J. Quinn Brisben even wrote a poem for me in homage in his Cicerone poem series with “the Cicerone in Golden”.)
But that’s the thing, I may go to a place like this for a retreat, and I may gain inspiration there, but inspiration can come to me from anywhere — sometimes an acquaintance can say a few words in a sentence/comment, and it may trigger me to imagine something new altogether, and it may inspire me to write. A line from a song may stick in my head enough to somehow be incorporated into my writing (like Harry Connick Jr. singing “I know what follows the autumn wind” in “Drifting”, without my thinking about it I incorporated that line into my poem “Death takes many forms” that talked about death represented in winter). Even a reference on a television show can inspire me, like “the Simpsons” commentary on objectifying women partially led to my writing my classic poem “Too Far” — my only poem that I ever designed a video for (youtube), and a video still from that poem was even used for the book covers of my most recent books, “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” and “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 show poems”.
At times my memories alone can inspire me as well, remembering plays or awards I have won (as mentioned in my recent poem “Only Voice He Could Hear”), or memories of challenging myself with the sky, flying an airplane or jumping from an airplane (as mentioned in my recent poem “Jumping, Flying”). In fact, while we traveled to Antarctica in November 2017, my husband John said to me that this was one of the most pristine places on planet Earth — and when he said this I had to write the phrase down, because that would be incorporated into the title of a poem written for my “Who What Where When Why” feature 12/2/17 in my final poetry feature performance in the final installment of the “Expressions” poetry feature series at the Austin Texas Bahá’í Faith Center.
The point is that inspiration can come from anywhere, and that you just have to keep your mind open to new and different ideas, because that is when most anything can inspire you.
Here is another example of looking for inspiration to accomplish a writing goal: I had started writing a novel (as government conspiracy AIDS book with a science R&D drug company); I had started it, but life got in the way and I halted work on the book for a few years. My husband John told me that I should finish that book, so for months I, would let the story fester in the back of my mind. When I took baths, I would sit there and imagine scenes where my protagonists would look for meditation moments, and during this time of my relaxation I would come up with ideas of how they would think and feel in the book. And then when I visited my parents in southwest Florida for two weeks, I wrote more than half of the 650-page book – and completed it. And some of that was due to looking for quiet times (like taking a bath) to concretize these characters in my mind, for the people in my novel “The Key to Believing” were more real to me than most people I know.
What hurts you most in this world?
I think I would say sexism, coupled with the unfair treatment, abuse, or sexual assault of women (because of all of my work and historic experience in dealing with acquaintance rape issues), and I would say this is a fundamental hurdle that women have to deal with in every aspect of their lives (that never occurs to men to think about). Here’s an example of how men think things are equal when they are not. A recent study showed that in one workplace, men thought women had equal rights and opportunities when women knew they did not; men thought in one company that women were in high-ranking upper-management positions when only one in ten high-level positions were even held by women. The thing is, although I was in a minority when I was enrolled as an engineering student in one of the top three ranked engineering universities in the United States, this is no longer the case, because women now hold the majority of engineering positions (that’s right, women can do math and science well) in college enrolment. And women still have to fight how people interpret their clothes or their actions in order to do the same work as men (often working longer to do more work than their male counterparts), all for less pay. (At one point, after working with acquaintance rape issues for years as well as sexism and the objectification of women, I released a poetry book titled “The Average Guy’s Guide (to Feminism)”, now sold out)
Good thing I’m a tall strong-minded woman who has historically stood up for myself and actually gotten ahead in the business world. This has allowed me to be treated as a person, and not as somehow a “lesser” woman in the workplace. The thing is, I can still be thought of differently specifically because I am a woman; I still get cat-calls (for years I have, and still, get cat-calls and deliberate repeated stares no matter here I’m going for walks, in the States, or even recently in Visakhapatnam India.
The thing is, I can say this about myself, but I cannot speak for all women. I cannot say that all women know how to battle and overcome these hardships. The real issue is that, whether or not anyone knows how to deal with them, that isn’t even the point — no one should have to deal with these hurdles that are placed on women solely because they are women. Women shouldn’t be at a fraternity party and held down by one man while raped by another. Women shouldn’t be given so much alcohol when a man gets them alone so he can rape her. No woman should ever deal with this. No woman should ever have to worry about misinterpretations of her clothing or make-up choices as a signal for assault. No woman should feel scared when walking alone at night because she is viewed as a target (from theft or from a sexual predator). This is not how women should have to live — in fear, precisely because of their gender. This is what is not right, and I think it takes an entire population to change their views to ever effectively make a difference.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?
To answer this question, I have to tell you a story first.
After working successfully as an Art Director (photographer and website creator) for a food trade magazine company for years, I decided (I think because I had heard of people doing this after college before even entering the workplace, and because I had enough money saved to pay for an apartment for a year and cover any travel expenses) to quit my job and travel around the country by car with my roommate. It was a phenomenal experience, starting from Chicago, going west to the East Coast before taking a southern route to the East Coast before going back home; I even wrote journals throughout my travels that was released in the book “Changing Gears”. While traveling I even stopped in Albuquerque to read in a Chicago poetry show for the National Poetry Slam during my travels, and wrote poetry like “True Happiness in the New Millennium”.
After I returned from one trip after July 4th, I drove to my parent’s house to visit on July 11th. Everything else I am about to tell you about July 11th is all not from my memories, but from eye witness accounts.
I was stopped at the end of a line of cars at an intersection waiting for the light to change. It did change, but (because it takes a while for all cars to get moving) we were all still stopped. This light was at the bottom of a hill, and when driving toward it from the north you see the light before you see the traffic, which included not only me at the end of the line, but a motorcycle in front of me and a van in front of them. A driver was speeding on this road (the speed limit was 55 mph), saw the light, and continued texting. I saw the speeding car careening toward me from my read-view mirror, and to save the life of the motorcyclist in front of me I turned the wheels of my car to the left (though I couldn’t move into a turn lane, it would mean that if I was hit I would not kill the motorcyclist in front of me, with the van in front of him. The speeding texting driver hit me, and because the light had changed, they knocked me into oncoming traffic, where another car ran into me. From this crash, there was skid marks from my tires for 108 feet on the road. When an ambulance came and I was unresponsive, they check for a helicopter to bring me to the hospital, but the nearest helicopter was 25 minutes away, and Christ Hospital (the hospital, by the way, that I was born in) was 2 miles away on the same road, so they drove me there, while trying to resuscitate me.
My skull was fractured in three places and I was not breathing. Because my purse with my driver’s license and insurance was lodged under my seat from the accident, they nicknamed me “Elvira Doe” and searched car records to find my family’s local phone number — they then called my mother and asked her to identify a body.
I was unconscious for eleven days. While in a coma and because I was not breathing, they were going to give me a tracheotomy; my sister (thinking about how I sing) asked them to postpone the tracheotomy until the last possible day. While in a coma, I started breathing the morning of that final day.
If you have ever seen movies about people waking up from comas after a long time and being able to talk on their own, understand this this is fiction. I had to relearn how to walk or talk or eat, and I felt like I had lost everything I loved or valued — including my independence or my freedom.
If you want to find a happy ending to this story, the only one I can think of is that doctors and medics on multiple floors in the hospital would look over my records and progress, and nicknamed me “miracle girl” because for the speed of my recovery. So you want to know the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced, and how I overcame it. Well, I think I’ve pretty much laid out the biggest challenge I ever faced, almost losing my life and having to fit the pieces back together again. How did I do it? I used my drive, what I possessed in my brain, to work, I used determination, and a will to know how to do what we best for me. I have never let anyone define how I was to live my life, and when someone tried to take away my life from me, all I wanted to do was work with every fiber of my being to get what I knew was mine back. When you know what you want, and when you’ve had it in the past and some forces beyond your control tried to take that away from you, your desire to achieve once again what was rightfully yours seems all too clear.
If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?
It seems ludicrous to ask someone to fill someone — only one — else’s shoes. I believe that asking someone to fulfill this ethical question means that anyone who asks that question is pigeon-holing their subject to think a very specific way about a moral topic.
If I could be anyone for one day, who would it be. (Because I believe the why for any person is to learn more about history, or to understand the mind of the particular person at that point in history.) There so many, all for different reasons.
A part of me would like to live the life of Aristotle for one day, to know how his mind worked, to come up with the body of thought and the mode of thinking he did. And in the same respect, I really think I would like to live Leonardo Da Vinci’s life for one day as well, to truly get a feel of how his mind worked, because he was able to incorporate painting, marble sculpture, anatomy and science discussions — this man engineered not only military machinery but also flying machinery in his spare time as well. How can one man think of all these ideas at once? I know science and art can be so intertwined (I even wrote a poetry book with poems for every element of the Periodic Table titled “The Periodic Table of Poetry” with bonus element poems and compound poems, which even had a few poems nominated for a Pushcart Prize, including “Copper”, “Oxygen”, “Ununseptium” – which since my writing this now has a name, “Tin”, and “Meitnerium”).
I would almost like to say that I would like to live a particular day in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, because many believe that he was not the son of God. But that may be a wasted request, because if the real person actually existed, there would be nothing to prove his “supernatural” ability unless you chose the day he ascended after his death, and if this was all true he would not be a man. So I am guessing that’s far too wasted an attempt to know or thwart a religion, because the whole point in believing in a religion is to believe in something you can never have any real proof or evidence of — and for all of the people who do believe in a creator, trying to throw logic or reason in their faces who shatter their feeble egos too much, so… let them continue to believe in something they cannot prove.
You know, the more I think about it, the more I think I would want to live in more modern times (that I could more concretely relate to). Because someone suggested to me that I could choose to be the caveman who learned how to harness fire, which is probably one of the most ground-breaking things throughout the evolution through that time of humankind’s existence, but I thought that as that caveman, I would not be able to truly grasp the value of my actions, so I don’t know if that would be a wise choice for me personally to make…
Maybe there would be a phenomenal amount of value living the life of Thomas Jefferson for a day. Get a momentary grasp on how men founding this country thought of slaves, for instance, and more importantly, living his life for a day may give an insurmountable clarity to learn what the founding fathers meant when they were actually building this country. (I touch upon this in my poem “The State of the Nation” because the Constitution was designed to give power to the people, not the government, so we have to learn the balancing act of freedom for security, and I would love to hear the thoughts of at least one of the shapers of this country.)
Though it would be fascinating for one day to be embedded in the mentality of a mass murderer — not to try to change history, but to try to truly understand why someone could do something like that. (In the same way drivers passing car accidents look to hope to catch gory details, this concept fascinates me, not because I want to kill — I’ve actually been a vegetarian for ~23 years now, though I try to not hammer the point to people too often, since that may turn them away from even thinking of eating a healthier, but more importantly more moral diet. Because of this I, have only written minimally, about being a vegetarian, with poems like “Everything was Alive and Dying” and “On a High Horse Life This” (which was nominated in the “Revealed” 2014 release for the (40 years) Pushcart Prize.) To understand the mind of a mass murderer by filling their shoes for a day, maybe I could choose to live a day in the life of… Hmmm, maybe Adolf Hitler. Whether it be at the Beer Hall Putsch (which I believe was a time when this short Austrian wanted to be an artist but couldn’t pass art school entrance exams, before he took over and made himself the Führer and declared himself a vegetarian, and when it is claimed he drank repeated liters of Optimater after speeches to give him vitality)… wait a minute, it might be a better plan to pick someone from the SS, who were so indoctrinated into the mindset of killing people for their religion or nationality, like the Propaganda Minister Goebbels (who once said his greatest propaganda was Adolf Hitler himself), or the head of the SS (and once chicken farmer, I think, someone who was rejected for serving in the military because of his weak health) Heinrich Himmler… wait a minute! I love astronomy, I should pick Wernher Von Braun, the man who loved rocketry and was later snatched by the U.S. after WWII to assist in building a rocket to put a man on the moon before the USSR. (But that takes it away from the murder theme and over toward my love of astronomy — so maybe if I am going to pick someone from the SS, I should pick Wernher Von Braun, even though at the same time I would like to understand the life of my few ancestors who were killed by the Nazi party because of their part in the revolution to protect Jews during the war.
In a time after WWII and Roosevelt getting the Americans into the Second World War after the attack on Pearl Harbor, some of the American People seemed to fall for the Communist mentality stoked by the USSR (even though Lenin and Stalin took the Hitler mentality to an even harsher degree, even further away from what the USA fundamentally stood for). One woman, Ayn Rand, was a Russian who left before her country’s revolution in 1919 to adore Capitalism (and her stark adherence to these rules also turned some away). A part of me would like to see how show lived her life, whether it be in writing her novels, or if how she could answer questions in the speeches during the philosophical movement she started. (Yes, I could have chosen other philosophers, but I appreciate her love of Capitalism — I am an American who believes that people should be paid properly for their work and people should profit form their ideas. I also would choose her precisely because she lived closer to my time period, and therefore her beliefs would more greatly reflect the more current time in which we live.)
By the way, allow me to interject… I believe that large corporations now, especially when the founder with the brain handed it to a cog, should not be paying that cog so fabulously for just not going out of business and in some cases awarding them millions when they do go under. THIS IS NOT CAPITALISM. My poet friends think I’m crazy for calling myself a capitalist but most people don’t understand that what we have today in this country is not capitalism but is some warped form of corporate socialism… wait, it’s probably more than corporate socialism, because generations of families remain on welfare (which is NOT capitalism). I am one of the weird ones who wants people to work for their pay, and to be proud of the work they do.
Although this was a fun thought experiment, I suppose my answer would be that I do not want to fill any one person’s shoes for one day. Even though I’m a poet, I’m too logical, and too much of a realist to know there’s no point in trying to imagine what any other person’s live might have been like, instead of focusing on your own life, improving that and making the world a better place that way.
What is your favorite genre and why?
In music? Rock (though to be more specific, I like most goth and alternative music, Industrial music, some electronic dance music, some hip hop). classical music, I love – very specifically -Mozart. Even after our flight came back to O’Hare from China we immediately dressed to see a Chicago Symphony Orchestra string quartet perform Mozart’s “The Dissonant” (because it happens to be my favorite Mozart piece). I’m a Chicago girl (who’s lucky to have a husband who loves blues music), so I like Blues music, but when on Bourbon Street in New Orleans I like Jazz too.
But you didn’t ask for my favorite music genre, just my favorite genre. In what? in books? I never have time to read books because I am the founder of Scars Publications, which hosts two literary magazines. One is cc&d (“Children, Churches and Daddies”, byline: the UN-religious, NON-family oriented literary and art magazine, founded June 1993, which was actually named after a poem of mine, “Children, Churches and Daddies”), and the other (which was once a spin-off section to cc&d in 1994) is Down in the Dirt (a literary magazine that started in 2000). Both get a lot of submissions I have to read, and with that I, release a monthly 108-page issue/book for both magazines available on Amazon, plus issue collection books, annual collection books, and select chapbooks reprinted as ISBN# paperback books also available on Amazon. Because I spend so much time writing, for the most part I, don’t have time to read other books. I don’t get into reading any of the usual paperback writer known author paper-cutter generic trash. So, what to know what kind of writing I like? The best way is to look at what is accepted in the magazines — I might not get everything stylistically that I want to read, but at least you can get an idea of what I like enough to publish when people email submissions to me for magazine publication consideration.
Wait — what else could “genre” mean? Film? Heh, I barely go to movie theaters, and never really did. I guess I like Monty Python movies, the 1988 film Heathers for just the right teen angst, more cutting-edge Johnny Depp movies (like Dead Man and the Ninth Gate). I loved Trainspotting and appreciated movies like Snatch. Oh — because I really liked reading the book the Lord of the Flies back in the 1980s, I researched and watched the black and white 1950s movie adaptation (NOT the 1980s color version, ever). Even though I’m female, I don’t really like the romantic comedy genre, and I really dislike the horror genre. But at the same time, I don’t mind Star Wars or Star Trek movies. I don’t know what that says about me, other than if you want to know my plans on any given evening, it’s more likely that they won’t involve movies.
What about genres in television? Well, I probably hold to the same guidelines as I mentioned in movies, though it seems that most of the TV shows I watch now are comics (from the Simpsons to South Park or Archer, or even classic ones like Ren & Stimpy — and of course Aeon Flux). For the most part, I’m not a huge TV show watcher, other than maybe the Daily Show — or other special shows from cable channels about places around the world like the Galapagos Islands, or history channel shows about WWII in Europe, or science shows or astronomy shows.
When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?
The first poem I ever wrote was in the spring of 1980 (for a class, “Under the Sea”), and I wrote (bad rhyming) poetry sporadically throughout high school. When I went off to college and learned of more important, weighty and crucial issues, I stopped writing rhyming poetry (which is almost always structured to make a rhyme work and not to get the best message across in a poem; this is why I never accept rhyming poetry in either literary magazine, as defined in their outline pages online) and structured poems in order to get (the more important) messages across to people. And over the years, my writing has been just that — poetry to get a message across, to either reflect on personal times or events of a particular person, to highlight issues with sexism or the objectification of women or rape, or even personal material to talk about issues particularly relevant to me (in fact, after that near fatal car accident, I wrote a lot of poetry, because no one wanted to listen to me — it was raw, but later released in the book “Recovery”). In fact, in 2016 through 2017 I had monthly features at the Bahá’í Faith Center in Austin Texas, and there have been themes I have had to adhere to for my monthly features, and they may have been anything from a particular season to the concept of peace, or end of the year holidays. I used these 2016-2017 shows to highlight these things in my personal life, using not only older stories with new news stories as well.
Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?
My poetry (and some prose) has been published over 6,400 times over the past 25 years. Also, because I run Scars Publications, chapbooks from every poetry show of min also are released as print ISSN# cc&d supplement issues and online ISSN# cc&d online PDF file issues, which may also be highlighted in collection book releases. I will also share a few releases of my books over the years, though all of them are listed at http://scars.tv and http://www.janetkuypers.com.
Below is a listing of most books.
In addition to being published with Bernadette Miller in the short story collection book Domestic Blisters, as well as in a book of poetry turned to prose with Eric Bonholtzer in the book Duality, Kuypers has had many books of her own published: Hope Chest in the Attic, The Window, Close Cover Before Striking, (woman.) (spiral bound), Autumn Reason (novel in letter form), the Average Guy’s Guide (to Feminism), Contents Under Pressure, etc., and eventually The Key To Believing (2002 650 page novel), Changing Gears (travel journals around the United States), The Other Side (European travel book), the three collection books from 2004: Oeuvre (poetry), Exaro Versus (prose) and L’arte (art), The Boss Lady’s Editorials, The Boss Lady’s Editorials (2005 Expanded Edition), Seeing Things Differently, Change/Rearrange, Death Comes in Threes, Moving Performances, Six Eleven, Live at Cafe Aloha, Dreams, Rough Mixes, The Entropy Project, The Other Side (2006 edition), Stop., Sing Your Life, the hardcover art book (with an editorial) in cc&d v165.25, the Kuypers edition of Writings to Honour & Cherish, The Kuypers Edition: Blister and Burn, S&M, cc&d v170.5, cc&d v171.5: Living in Chaos, Tick Tock, cc&d v1273.22: Silent Screams, Taking It All In, It All Comes Down, Rising to the Surface, Galapagos, Chapter 38 (v1 and volume 1), Chapter 38 (v2 and Volume 2), Chapter 38 v3, Finally: Literature for the Snotty and Elite (Volume 1, Volume 2 and part 1 of a 3 part set), A Wake-Up Call From Tradition (part 2 of a 3 part set), (recovery), Dark Matter: the mind of Janet Kuypers , Evolution, Adolph Hitler, O .J. Simpson and U.S. Politics, the one thing the government still has no control over, (tweet), Get Your Buzz On, Janet & Jean Together, po•em, Taking Poetry to the Streets, the Cana-Dixie Chi-town Union, the Written Word, Dual, Prepare Her for This, uncorrect, Living in a Big World (color interior book with art and with “Seeing a Psychiatrist”), Pulled the Trigger (part 3 of a 3 part set), Venture to the Unknown (select writings with extensive color NASA/Huubble Space Telescope images), Janet Kuypers: Enriched, She’s an Open Book, “40”, Sexism and Other Stories, the Stories of Women, Prominent Pen (Kuypers edition), Elemental, the paperback book of the 2012 Datebook (which was also released as a spiral-bound ISBN# ISSN# 2012 little spiral datebook, , Chaotic Elements, and Fusion, the (select) death poetry book Stabity Stabity Stab Stab Stab, the 2012 art book a Picture’s Worth 1,000 words (available with both b&w interior pages and full color interior pages, the shutterfly ISSN# ISBN# hardcover art book life, in color, Post-Apocalyptic, Burn Through Me, Under the Sea (photo book), the Periodic Table of Poetry, a year long Journey, Bon Voyage!, and the mini books Part of my Pain, Let me See you Stripped, Say Nothing, Give me the News, when you Dream tonight, Rape, Sexism, Life & Death (with some Slovak poetry translations), Twitterati, and 100 Haikus, that coincided with the June 2014 release of the two poetry collection books Partial Nudity and Revealed. 2017, after hr October 2015 move to Austin Texas, also witnessed the release of 2 Janet Kuypers book of poetry written in Austin, “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” and a book of poetry written for her poetry features and show, “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 show poems” (and both pheromemes books are available from two printers).
I turned my writing into performance art on her own and with musical groups like Pointless Orchestra, 5D/5D, The DMJ Art Connection, Order From Chaos, Peter Bartels, Jake and Haystack, the Bastard Trio, and the JoAnne Pow!ers Trio, and starting in 2005 I ran a monthly iPodCast of my work, as well mixed JK Radio — an Internet radio station — into Scars Internet Radio (both radio stations on the Internet air 2005-2009). I also ran the Chaotic Radio show (an hour long Internet radio show 1.5 years, 2006-2007) through BZoO.org. I have performed spoken word and music across the country – in the spring of 1998 I embarked on my first national poetry tour, with featured performances, among other venues, at the Albuquerque Spoken Word Festival during the National Poetry Slam; my bands have had concerts in Chicago and in Alaska; in 2003 I hosted and performed at a weekly poetry and music open mike (called “Sing Your Life”), and from 2002 through 2005 was a featured performance artist, doing quarterly performance art shows with readings, music and images. Starting at this time I released a large number of CD releases currently available for sale at iTunes or amazon, including “Across the Pond”(a 3 CD set of poems by Oz Hardwick and Janet Kuypers with assorted vocals read to acoustic guitar of both Blues music and stylized Contemporary English Folk music), “Made Any Difference” (CD single of poem reading with multiple musicians), “Letting It All Out”, “What we Need in Life” (CD single by Janet Kuypers in Mom’s Favorite Vase of “What we Need in Life”, plus in guitarist Warren Peterson’s honor live recordings literally around the globe with guitarist John Yotko), “hmmm” (4 CD set), “Dobro Veče” (4 CD set), “the Stories of Women”, “Sexism and Other Stories”, “40”, “Live” (14 CD set), “an American Portrait” (Janet Kuypers/Kiki poetry to music from Jake & Haystack in Nashville), “Screeching to a Halt” (2008 CD EP of music from 5D/5D with Janet Kuypers poetry), “2 for the Price of 1” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from Peter Bartels), “the Evolution of Performance Art” (13 CD set), “Burn Through Me” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from The HA!Man of South Africa), “Seeing a Psychiatrist” (3 CD set), “The Things They Did To You” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from the DMJ Art Connection), “Hope Chest in the Attic” (audio CD set), “St. Paul’s” (3 CD set), “the 2009 Poetry Game Show” (3 CD set), “Fusion” (Janet Kuypers poetry in multi CD set with Madison, WI jazz music from the Bastard Trio, the JoAnne Pow!ers Trio, and Paul Baker), “Chaos In Motion” (tracks from Internet radio shows on Chaotic Radio), “Chaotic Elements” (audio CD set for the poetry collection book and supplemental chapbooks for The Elements), “etc.” audio CD set, “Manic Depressive or Something” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from the DMJ Art Connection), “Singular”, “Indian Flux” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from the DMJ Art Connection), “The Chaotic Collection #01-05”, “The DMJ Art Connection Disc 1” (Janet Kuypers poetry to music from the DMJ Art Connection), “Oh.” audio CD, “Live At the Café” (3 CD set), “String Theory” (Janet Kuypers reading other people’s poetry, with music from “the DMJ Art Connection), “Scars Presents WZRD radio” (2 CD set), “SIN – Scars Internet News”, “Questions in a World Without Answers”, “Conflict • Contact • Control”, “How Do I Get There?”, “Sing Your Life”, “Dreams”, “Changing Gears”, “The Other Side”, “Death Comes in Threes”, “the final”, “Moving Performances”, “Seeing Things Differently”, “Live At Cafe Aloha”, “the Demo Tapes” (Mom’s Favorite Vase), “Something Is Sweating” (the Second Axing), “Live In Alaska” EP (the Second Axing), “the Entropy Project”, “Tick Tock” (with 5D/5D), “Six Eleven” “Stop. Look. Listen.”, “Stop. Look. Listen to the Music” (a compilation CD from the three bands “Mom’s Favorite Vase”, “Weeds & Flowers” and “The Second Axing”), and “Change Rearrange” (the performance art poetry CD with sampled music).
What keeps you motivating towards writing?
Usually one’s own thoughts, their drive, keeps them writing. When I have wanted to write something, it could have been from any inspiration — an essay on women’s issues, a newspaper article discussing the gender pay gap still strong (but viewed as gone by man), another personal story told to me about a past acquaintance rape. Once, for example, someone explained something to me while I was a passenger in a driving car after a semi honked their horn at our car (because I had a tank top on, which is apparently a real turn-on for semi drivers on the road). They told me that when a semi truck honks their horn at my car on an expressway, it is usually to inform other semis to be on the lookout, then they will radio ahead to trucks ahead on the highway to let them know of a good looking “seat cover.” Hearing this brought me instantly back to the section I designed for my book “(woman.)” titled “a Book for Men”; there were so many names men used to degrade women in our society, that I put them together into a handy little guide (calling them animals, like a fox, a chick, or a bitch, or calling women types of food, like a honey, a cherry, or a peach, or referring to women as inanimate objects, like a bag, or her box, or even a hoe — or as a lay, in referring to sex with women by using the previously male-dominated power tools or sports language, like banging, bopping, scoring, hammering, or nailing). So the next thing I wanted to do was write a poem about the ever-expanding list of ways to degrade women, expanding on “the Book for Men.” Because just hearing these things makes me makes me want to get them down, so these ideas are not forgotten (that men can still do things like this to women to degrade them),
Anything can inspire me — I heard a Morrissey song about Redondo Beach and a girl dying there, and I honestly thought it was too over the top, so I decided to write a poem — entirely made up — about a potential situation about losing someone at the beach. And in “You’ve let me on Siesta Beach”— a beach in a state I frequent but a beach I’ve never been to. I wrote about a jilted lover abandoning another, and the next morning, after not hearing from them until the next morning, they heard a dead body was washed up at the beach, they rushed to view the body, and — it wasn’t them. And the thing is, since that argument the night before, they never heard from each other again. And the thing is, it was hearing a song that made me want to write this fictitious poem. Anything can motivate me to write.
At this point I, think I want to express something about motivation to write. I mentioned (albeit too briefly, due to its everlasting impact on me) the near fatal multi-car impact years ago. Because my skull was fractured in three places, they had to make sure (A) that any swelling from my brain from the crash didn’t scrape against my skull (they ever had an intra-cranial pressure monitor attached to my head to make sure there was no swelling problem) and (B) that the bones set properly. The insane thing is that the doctors told my family that I (and overly emotional person to begin with) is likely to be more emotional due to the type of head injury I had. And it was after the initial stages of recovery from this accident that I actually considered the concept of suicide, I was that depressed from the work I had to on my own to recover, in ways absolutely no one else in the world could ever fathom or understand.
Of course I could never truly think of doing that, I didn’t know how and couldn’t fathom the logistics of killing myself (and this experience made me realize that if I had died, there would be no compilation body of my written work of my photography — so at the point I decided to start to compile 25-year collection books of poetry with “Oeuvre”, flash fiction and prose with “Exaro Versus”, and art with “l’arte”.
And as I recovered I wrote (poorly in my opinion, but I wrote), because I needed to do this to recover. And seven months after the accident I had a grand-mal seizure (something, by the way, the doctors informed my family, but not me, the patient). So the Urgent Care facility pumped what seems like litres of Dilantin into my veins to stop any potential future seizures. (By the way, it felt like demons were being injected into my veins, it itched like mad and I wanted to rip that needle and tube out of my arm.) Within 14 days I had a rash all over my arms and legs — this is how I discovered that I was allergic, so they changed my medication to Tegretol. The rash went away immediately, but then came back again within two weeks again, so they then opted to give me Depakote. I didn’t have any reaction to Depakote, so I stayed on it for maybe 4 years, with no seizures, before they deduced I was in the clear and would not be prone to getting seizures again.
What I didn’t know was the Depakote was also a depression medication. (The drug company that produced this apparently also deduced that his medication also helped to alleviate seizures.) And I tell you that this was an anti-depression medication because it was in that period of time when I had no interest whatsoever in writing. It was as if the medication numbed the will to do anything out of me — it sapped me of any creativity I may have ever had. And to a creative person, that is close to feeling dead.
Years later, a musician friend of mine from outside of Nashville, Tennessee (whom I met because we both had an Internet presence and we thought we could work together — which we have and can continue to do via “the DMJ Art Connection”), told me about how they learned that taking anti-depression medication kills your creative spirit. And when, in dealing with the mental battles I have faced because of repeated traumas in my life (and culminating with the auto crash), it was suggested to me that I could take anti-depression medication, I said no. I said that my creative soul is the one thing I still have, and I didn’t want to lose my soul by taking medication. So, I entirely agree with him, and I said I had no intention of choosing to take anti-depression medication. What I didn’t realize is that at one point I had taken anti-depression medication, and it killed any creativity I had during that time.
If Writing a Book is taken as a project, What are the key essentials you take care of in Project Management?
I am not going to answer this question based on publishing my own books (because there may be a future end point set like my two new books I released, “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 poems” and “(pheromemes) 2015-2017 show poems” before my August 2017 trip to Chicago with poetry features that coincided my photography of the total solar eclipse, where I produced ~725 images from the event that I photographed in southern Illinois — including a photo of the sun breaking through the total eclipse that I will release for t-shorts for the 2024 total crossing through Austin, Texas), but I will discuss book production for the two literary magazines I produce (since it collects writing and artwork from assorted contributors to appear in monthly Amazon books.
When I accept a piece of writing from someone for a future issue of cc&d or Down in the Dirt magazine, I go through a list of things:
1. I save their name and personal information (address, phone number, email — and this if often just their name and email, but I save it so I have record to letting people know when magazine issue/books are released) in a database.
2. I create a folder for their writing (the folder name includes their name, the date of the accepted writing, and the magazine it was accepted for).
3. I save their writing into a file named the title of their writing, and after it the letters “2pri” (so I know this version of the writing is used for the print issue/book).
4. Then I copy the file, convert all bolds and italics an underlines with html format, as well as any special characters (that are not appearing with the single stroke of a keyboard, like smart/curly quotes, long dashes, ellipses, International letters with accents, etc.), convert everything to html code, then save the file in the same folder with the last 4 characters as “4wri” (because this is the version of their writing that will appear under their name in the writings section of http://scars.tv they can view anytime online for free).
5. Copy that writings section version, add html returns and special treatment for the title and author name, and save that file in the same folder with the extension “4web” (because this is the version that will appear in the Internet/web page version of the magazine issue).
After completing this, I place the writing with the issue/book for future publication, I open the layout for this issue/book (I design all books in QuarkXPress), add a page for the appropriate location, and design that writing in that location of the book (with type set for the title, the author name and the body copy). Once I am pleased with how it looks in the book, I add the author name and title and page number to the Table of Contents pages and save the layout. Then I take the “writings” version of their acceptance (the file with the ending “4wri”), and I change the beginning of the title to the file with either “ccd” (for cc&d magazine) and the 3 digit issue number or “dirt” (for Down in the Dirt magazine) and the 3 digit issue number, And I move this file to the web folder for updates to the writings section (which we upload every Friday afternoon, after updating the database for the writings section to include these accepted writings for the week). After doing all of this, then I send them an acceptance letter to let them know (A) what writing of their has been accepted, (B) which issue of the magazine it is accepted for, (C) that their accepted writing will appear under their name in the writings section of http://scars.tv by the end of the U.S. business week, and (D) that their writing will appear in not only a free online (html web page) issue, but also a print issue as an Amazon ISBN# paperback book sold throughout the U.S. the U.K. and all of Europe.
As a note: while accepting submission, we also create a text file for the issue of email addresses for all accepted writers within the issue. We use this to let contributors know when the issue is released (in print and on our web page). We also use this to generate a contributor listing (which the printer needs in the description of the book); because there are usually a large number of contributors to any issue, not all authors can be listed in the author listing of the book at Amazon, so we make a point to list as many as we can as authors in the printer listing, but we also have a complete list of all contributors in the description of the book.
After I have enough material to fill an entire book, I look to finalize the design. I have art files from a number of people around the world (and all of their art appears in framed art pages of their work in the art section of Scars), and I look for spaces to fill with art. With cc&d (with a poems section in front of the prose section), images are places on pages with poems that have room on the page for additional art, and images appear at the end of prose pieces when the prose type end on a page with a lot of white space before the next story. With Down in the Dirt, poems and prose appear as they are accepted (and not grouped together); we allow white space around poems, but art (like in cc&d) is added at the end of prose pieces when the prose type end on a page with a lot of white space before the next story. (Down in the Dirt does not have as much art on file as cc&d does, so it works better for poems in Down in the Dirt to have more white space around them, since they do not appear in a poetry “section”, and adding more artwork in the cc&d poetry section (titled “poetry: the passionate stuff”, along with “prose: the meat and potatoes stuff”) gives a lot more action to the front section in all issues as well.)
Because these issues/books are designed with the same formatting month after month, most everything fits into a formatting style for future production and release of the book as an Amazon book. So, maybe a month and a half or two months before the book is to be released (because we have to give time for the Amazon printer to proof the book, and we need to have time for proof copies to mail to us for review), we then consider what the title of the issue/book will be. We choose titles of each issue specifically based on accepted writings within the issue, so (considering the season for publication) we look through the titles in the Table of Contents (other than anything I may have in the issue as editor) and choose a title from the Table of Contents for the title of the book. We then look through (and remember) all images we have on file for potential covers to relate to the title of the issue, and we then design the cover. We have formatting from past covers published through our Amazon printer, so we use the previous month’s cover to use our new photo and title (and we adjust the issue number and month for the issue wherever it is listed on the front and back cover).
Once we have the title and cover art, we then first design the web page (html) version of the issue. (We do this first because we may find typos in the print version while making the web page version, so this is another way to proof the book before sending the physical copy to the printer for review.) So here we place the type and art into a web page in a linear listing for the web page, and make sure the Table of Contents on the web page links to the appropriate writing and art within the issue. Here we also catch where any type may have caused a problem that would show up in a web page — we cannot explain why, but sometimes when people email submissions to us across different operating system platforms and in different programs, invisible characters may be fed into documents that can cause glitches on web pages. If we discover problems like this when designing the web page, we check and correct the writings page listing as well (if the author did not notice this beforehand and inform us of the error after their writing first appeared in the writings section).
Once the web page version of the issue is completed, we then make sure the print version is complete and we create export PDF files of the cover spread and the manuscript to send to the printer for them to review. We follow all aspects in producing this book through the Amazon, including completing their author listing with as many contributors as we can, we list the title and the subhead (which is the magazine title and issue number and date), we format paper type and color and printing style and gloss for covers, we list the price for the retail print issue (as well as the price in Pounds and Euros), we give a more complete description of the book with a full author listing and a magazine details, we even list that the book originates in the United States. When all is completed we wait for their proof time to check for any printing problems; when it comes through ready from them, we order a proof copy. After the proof copy comes to us, we check over select Table of Contents pages (to make sure everything still falls into place properly), we make sure the cover looks good and has correct issue and date information, we check art listings as well as all author and title listings to make sure type doesn’t need to be corrected.
When all seems fine, we wait until it approaches the release date. Once I release the print version, I have to wait before sharing it with contributors or people on the magazine mailing list who automatically get notices of all issues released — even though the book is technically released, it has to after release feed through the Amazon system so people can find it online. Only once I can find the book listed at Amazon, that is when I let everyone in the Scars community know the book is released – in print and online.
How do you plan, schedule and monitor your writing commitments?
My writing commitments are usually my features, readings, and open mics.
Most of my life I lived in the greater Chicagoland area; at first, I just attended poetry open mics and later went to more and more poetry features. I would list them at my Scars site (which at the time was listed through America Online, aol). In this millennium while living in Chicago (2000-2015) I (A) for my own domain for janetkuypers.com, (B) got an official domain for Scars Publications (and http://scars.tv seemed perfect with a “tv” suffix, since I have been adding more and more videos to poetry releases — of my own poetry and for magazine poetry, through YouTube). But in those last years I lived in Chicago, I also took over hosting a Chicago poetry open mic that started in December of 1996, which took a major amount of my time.
Sure, in theory hosting a weekly (or bi-weekly) poetry open mic shouldn’t take that much time, but when I started hosting this open mic, I added video to it, in releasing intros to every open mic through YouTube. I also (because of time restraints with the original locations that allowed us to run the open mic at their establishments), moved the open mic to another location in Chicago (the Gallery Cabaret, which had a stage and regularly hosted music groups for liver performances), gave this open mic a name, “the Café Gallery” and released poetry videos not only as entire open mic but also as feature videos (as get-together at “the Café Gallery” had not only the open mic but also a single feature who had a longer set than all open mic performers, who usually read poetry, very short prose, or played music). In addition to releasing the videos on YouTube, we also released the videos as weekly podcasts.
I know, you’d imagine that nobody is going to bother downloading podcasts of poetry of a single person or of an open mic, right? After I started this, that’s what I thought too, so I asked my more computer-savvy husband to check the metadata, to see if anyone actually downloaded these videos. He told me that, after removing spammers, podcast videos were downloaded on an average of once every 45 minutes – 24 hours a day. (When I heard this, I was a bit stunned myself. People wanted to download my open mic videos? Really? How excellent!)
So yeah, hosting the open mic, scheduling features and running the web site (with future show listing and links to past features and open mic videos), processing and releasing YouTube videos, and releasing the weekly podcast was a lot. Because of this, I went to fewer other Chicago open mics (though I tried to make a few more regularly, even if they only met up once a month). After finding out that because of job changes I would have to move to Austin Texas by October 2015, I had nearly a year to set up multitudes of features in Chicago (by the way, since I video recorded my features and I also release chapbooks in print at the features and online through scars.tv, all past features are listed at janetkuypers.com through the “performance art” link, and for scars in the Kuypers writing link, in a listing specifically listed as “performance art” — and since I had web pages and records to share from my features, they would also get YouTube playlists, and eventually also artvilla pages at their main page as well as the scars videos link page.
Then the effort was to advertise for my future features online. I did this with the addition of my web pages to showcase my upcoming features (for janetkuypers.com through the “performance art” link, and for scars in the Kuypers writing link, where it clearly lists a link to “click here for her upcoming features”), but I also looked for other online means to share my upcoming feature news. Facebook posts and Facebook feature event listings were good springboards, and I would sometimes also post info about them through my twitter page. That, and I would try to mention my upcoming features and any open mic I attended beforehand (and since I have moved to Austin and do not host a poetry open mic here, have tried to attend a few open mics more regularly as well).
What are your future plans?
I have been very lucky in Austin, in that I had found one poet (who is actually a transplant from Australia now living in Austin Texas) who not only attended poetry open mics, but also ran two monthly readings.
One was a first Wednesday of the month poetry reading space at Half Price Books (a bookstore at 5555 N. Lamar in Austin), which I was thrilled to read material regularly, because I release two books from the magazines I edit every month, plus issue collection books (if usually 4 issues) and annual collection anthologies. During these repeated 10-minute readings, I also often had time to read sets from older poetry books of my own. Sometimes I would read only 2 or 3 ~10-minute poetry readings in the bookstore, but sometimes I would read from 5 or 6 different books for many readings.
The other monthly feature space was the first Saturday of every month at Austin’s the Bahá’í Faith Center, and though there were themes to every get-together for readings, I used this space to share my poetry accompanied by music or nature sounds (or both), artwork, and more. A few of my shows were with acoustic or electric guitar music from my husband John. One show there I played an electric guitar with a bow. I have used props (like a roll or paper displaying the words to the poem I was reading, or a long thin strip of a poem coming out of a copper water spigot and tube), and although most people just stand there and read poetry (for open mics or features), I try to make a point to use as many different things as I can to try to make the performance more memorable to the viewer.
Because of costs for operation, I am afraid that Austin’s the Bahá’í Faith Center hosted it’s last gathering of poets December 2nd 2017. But I still read monthly at the bookstore, and go to open mics for many and long poetry readings, and have been offered features in Austin as well as in Dripping Springs Texas.
What is generally your preference in reading – a paper book or ebook? And why?
I’ve never read an eBook in my life. I have a library of books, and when I read submissions they are on my computer screen. And when I read in my poetry readings and performance art shows, I always read off a printed page — and I make a point to print large type, because I want to be able to minimalize my staring at a page when I am reading to a live audience. I believe that making eye contact with an audience helps make the audience feel they are involved with the reader in the performance as well.
How much real life goes into a fiction writing?
When writing anything, you have to base even fiction writing on who your own life has contained, and what you have experienced or learned. I believe that readings about fictional characters can teach you something about the author — why did they choose to write them this way? Are they reflective of a real-life person they based their fictional character on, because even a fictional character needs to be based on something, and that often comes from real-life experiences from the author.
Is a high level of imagination important to have for an Author?
I believe so. The level of the imagination may vary, but you have to be able to find something in something else to generate something new.
My husband has said more than once that he may say something, and think nothing of it, but I may hear his words and generate a poem about it.
Your dream destination on Earth?
I have no idea. Is it a place I have been that I want to return to, or is it a place I’ve never been to and only fantasized about? I can’t answer that because I don’t think of “dream” places; I usually just makes dreams a reality and visit them to learn something new.
What I can say is that when I think of trying to meditate or to train my brain to relax, I try to take my mind to Naples Beach in Southwest Florida (along the Gulf of Mexico). Why? Because we visited there regularly because my father, who owned a concrete company, started a retirement community there with a few friends and had homes. That neighborhood was almost like a second home to me, so I would imagine being at that beach, by the Naples Pier, and imagine it with no one there, probably towards sunset, so I could listen to the waves and the occasional gulls call. It’s not a dream destination, but sometimes you need to think of a place where you can relax, and at those times this image comes to my mind.
Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?
I was born outside of Chicago, Illinois, in the United States of America. I had traveled most of the U.S.’s continental 48 states (and during the latest travels I wrote journals that were released in a book titled “Changing Gears”, which is now sold out) before I met my now husband John, and after we were married we decided to see those last of the 48 we were both missing before visiting Alaska, then Hawaii. We visited Islands around the U.S. — we went to the Bahamas on our Honeymoon, and made a point to go to Paradise Island while there (before it was mass-marketed for the American tourism industry, where it was an otherwise abandoned island with palm trees and a few hammocks and only one outdoor booth for making drinks and playing music — it was gorgeous, and now it has been taken over by corporate America so anyone can visit and it will look the same as any other sun-and-shore retreat location). We visited Puerto Rico (we had a free voucher for visiting our choice of locations of Cancun, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico, and since I didn’t want to go to tourist trap locations, we picked an island-country technically a part of the U.S. with dry and tropical rain forests, which was great to visit).
Afterward, we took one long trip to 7 European countries (Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland). After this trip Scars Publications released the 2003 journal book “The Other Side”.
Then I visited a friend who had moved to Shanghai, China (and we also took that opportunity to visit Beijing in China). Later were took another Northern European trip, visiting England, Germany (this time to Berlin versus our previous trip, where we visited Munich and Dachau), Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland — and during this trip we also visited Russia (Saint Petersburg specifically). I was on a boat when we docked in Saint Petersburg, and at this time of year in our travels dusk in Russia was near midnight, so (because I have never used the hot tub on this boat before) I made as point to sit in the hot tub outside at 11:30 at night while docked in the U.S.S.R. — I mean, Communist Russia. (And Scars Publications released these journal entries with the other European entries into the 2006 edition of “The Other Side” too)
Since then we visited the Galapagos Islands (and eventually released a small full-color photo book “Galapagos” as well, just because there were so many beautiful photos of Animals specific to each of the islands).
John, though his work, was going to Visakhapatnam, India, so on my 20-year anniversary of being a vegetarian, I visited him in India. When I walked along the Naval base there, and saw a row of statues along the shoreline along the Bay of Bengal of leaders and prominent figures to the area. But what I noticed was that on the plaques at the base of the statues (which were written in Hindi and in English), the writings said things like “Warrior and Poet”, or “Emperor and Poet”, or “Freedom Fighter, Poet”. I think poetry (classical or Telugu) was listed on over half of the statues.
Sub-question: What comes to your mind when you think of India?
I saw a number of great sights while there, and as a vegetarian it was wonderful to have a plethora of vegetarian food options to choose from. But as a woman it was difficult, since women were second-class citizens. Being a woman, it hurt me that women were expected to cover themselves from head to toe. As a foreigner, it was expected that I should always cover my legs (that means no skirts unless you wear leggings under them), and you could not expose your shoulders – ergo no tank tops, no strapless tops, no swimsuits. (I even saw a Muslim woman in layers of black clothing go into the hotel swimming pool wearing all of that clothing.) I abided by their rules for women, but I was still stared at.
After photographing what I could of the country, and writing select haiku poems and writing journals about the experience, Scars Publications even released a photo/journal/poem book titled “Bon Voyage”.
But back to the original question about travel:
Most recently we visited Antarctica. During this time of photographing Gentoo and Chin-Strap penguins and Orca and Humpback whales (and lots and lots of ice), we also went camping for one night on the mainland peninsula (and trust me, it was terrible — we had a sleeping bag, and because I’m tall I told the man to give me a tall one, and he looked at me — a female — and said, ‘no, a regular’s fine for you…’ and both me and my husband were in sleeping bags too small for us; we didn’t have tents but what they call a bivey sack, which is only a larger sleeping bag to hide in). Rubbing my hands and feet together to generate heat from friction didn’t work, but mini avalanches from the mountain we were on went on for 45 minutes, and no, the balls of snow didn’t land on us, but a couple hundred yards away, which fell into the Southern Ocean, which meant we have more ice chunks to navigate through when we left our “campsite”. We even saw a small iceberg “turn”, or flip around 180°, in front of our “campsite”.
Oh, and to everyone I knew in Chicago through Kenosha, Wisconsin, who would do the Polar Plunge in Lake Michigan, you better know that we made as point to do the Polar plunge in the Southern Ocean – where you learn what cold really means.
Okay, that covers where I’ve been, but what were the best things I liked in these countries around the globe? Wow, there were so many little things, that I cannot say any one place wins over another…
Okay, it was miserable (because I was trying to climb one of the Alps and only had socks and sandals with water and snow everywhere), but it’s cool to say that with only sandals and socks, I tried to climb one of the Alps.
Even though visiting the Dachau concentration camp seemed stale and unmoving (versus even going to the Washington D.C. memorial), but I have to admit, it was moving to walk around the Arbeit Mach Frei gates.
It was cold in Fairbanks, Alaska. (I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you.) The window sills were 14″ thick, because the Bed and Breakfast needed that much insulation to keep people warm inside. It was cool to get to do an acoustic “concert” at a bar (where I sang and John played the sound engineer’s acoustic guitar) one night, and it was cooler to go outside (the best time was 1:30 in the morning) every night after bundling up to watch the dancing Aurora Borealis.
Though you could not stay there, it was far too fascinating to just sit and watch the animals in the Galapagos Islands, or to watch the floating icebergs in Antarctica.
Then again, I still fall in love every time I am driving down the Kennedy (90/94) on Chicago’s north side when I see the Chicago skyline. I still fall in love with the architecture there. Seeing it actually makes me smile.
Your zodiac/ sun sign?
I’m a Cancer. Do with that what you will.
(Actually, I’m born a day away from the Summer Solstice, so I am on the cusp of Cancer, so I may have some altering personality Gemini twin traits about me, who knows.)
Your favorite color and why?
What do questions like this tell you about a person. I could quote a high school friend who passed me a note in Advanced Physics class, when they quoted the Smiths’ song Unlovable, writing “I wear black on the outside, ‘cuz black is how I feel on the inside”, because I can say still that when I dress, I am usually wearing black, or possibly shades of grey or brown.
Then I asked myself, is black a color? White is technically an absence of all color, and black truly is the presence of all color. So maybe on an artistic level, I could say black, and you can interpret it as either a goth darkness that I seem to embrace (even if I was “proto-goth” by being a Smiths fan), or that all of the colors of the world make us who we are, and every color is in black.
(Oh, P.S.: following that quoted line by the Smiths, Morrissey later sings, “If I seem a little strange — well, that’s because I am.”)
What is the last book you finished reading? What is the current book you’re reading?
I don’t read books. I do, I even have a library, I make books, but because I’m an editor of two literary magazines, I am reading submissions and I don’t usually have the time to pick up new books. Currently reading? For my husband John’s birthday, this year I bought him Jefferson’s Bible, and I asked him to read it to me at night. We bought a short prose/haiku book from Austin resident/friend Brian Lamont after he read the intro for my short story feature “crazy” that I did at Kick Butt Coffee: Spoken and Heard in Austin 4/23/17. At the bookstore I read at monthly, I bought “The Ayn Rand Letters”, a collection of her letters over the years (I have only read the first few pages, where she barely knew English, adding to the book collection in our library). And as a side note, when stopping in travels in November 2017 in Buenos Aires, I stopped at a bookstore, and someone asked if they had Ayn Rand books. They had a number of her hardcover books in Spanish, so someone bought me her nonfiction hardcover book “Philosophy, Who Need It?” — so although I probably won’t be reading it in Spanish, at least that’s my most recent book to my collection. But at the same time, since then I have released many books I produce through Scars Publications, including the 11/9/17 release of “the 2018 poetry date book”, the late November annual collection book releases “Negative Space” (the 2017 poetry and flash fiction collection anthology) and “On a Rainy Day” (the 2017 poetry and prose collection anthology), the cc&d 12/17 issue/book “Flawed Cadaver”, the Down in the Dirt 12/17 issue/book “the Lighthouse”, the December cc&d 9-12 issue collection book “Language of Untamed Spirit”, and the December Down in the Dirt 9-12 issue collection book “the Light in the Sky”.
Your favorite food?
As a vegetarian, I have different sets of choices to choose from, but as silly as this sounds, I like my Chicago style deep dish pizza. (When John first got to know me, he said I wasn’t a vegetarian, but I was a pizzatarian.)
Your favorite sports?
I played tennis when I was a child, was on the tennis team in high school, and even pay for the Tennis Channel so I can get my tennis fix. While living in Chicago, we went to Mason Ohio’s Western & Southern Open tennis tournament in 2014 and 2015, and now that we live in Austin, we now take the short trip annually to Houston’s Men’s Clay Court Championships. (I am hoping that in 2018 we can get tickets to the Laver Cup in Chicago.)
Sure, I went to Jordan basketball games with the Bulls in the ‘90s, and sure, I liked football since I was little (and I even have a photo from when we watched the Bears win the Super Bowl back in ’85/86), but growing up and living in Chicago, I had other things to do than watch football. Now that I’ve been moved away from my hometown to Austin, Texas, I will religiously watch the Bears at local bars (no matter how poorly we are playing).
Some quickies: Sun or Moon?
We need the sun for life. I know too much sun can be harmful, but right now I think pf my mother, who, long after diagnosed and treated for breast cancer and cervical cancer (but never skin cancer), mom (while living in southwest Naples, Florida, along the Gulf of Mexico and a half-hour away from the Everglades), after working in the morning, would bring a chair out onto her driveway and sit in the sun for fifteen minutes. I would join her in a chair in the driveway like this, and now, years after she passed away, I still sometimes sit outside for fifteen minutes because of her.
But the sun isn’t very poetic, when everyone ascribes so much magic to the moon. In fact, the second poem I ever wrote was on the spot in class for discussions about types of poetry, when I came up with “Moonlight”. I’ve photographed the moon at night, I’ve basked in the moonlight, observed harvest moons, learned from Laurie Anderson (when she was the Artist in Residence for NASA) that the moon’s orbit is pulling the moon one inch farther away from the sun every year (so if you think the moon looked so big when you were young, well, you may have been right).
But imagine how ancient civilizations viewed the rare moments in time when the orbits of the moon and the sun happened to coincide, and for a brief period there was a total eclipse of the sun. I am thrilled I had the opportunity to be at one of the places in the U.S. where the totality of the total eclipse lasted the longest, and where it the sky had the fewest clouds for the shortest period of time (so only a few photos of the beginning of this event were joined by clouds). We bought solar glasses for viewing the eclipse before and after totality. We bought filters for our cameras to photograph the event. We also went out to the sun the week before to photograph it until we found the correct aperture to set our cameras to for the event as well. When we finally got to a spot in the park to situate ourselves for witnessing and photographing the total solar eclipse 8/21/17, we took pictures, and noticed the temperature changing slightly. When it was closer to the beginning of totality, it goy not only suddenly dark, but also really windy and the temperature dropped close to 15 degrees. This was when I had to remove the glasses, remove the filter from my camera, and set it to auto mode to photograph the totality as long as I could — and when I took one shot, not only with prominences but also with the sun peeking out of one corner of the total solar eclipse (someone recently called it the “diamond ring” photo) I thought, ‘oh no, I can’t take any more pictures without damaging my camera,’ so I placed the filter back on the lens and reset the original aperture levels.
But I’m glad I got to see the sun and the moon fit so perfectly together for close to two minutes. I’m also glad that in 2024, I hear the total solar eclipse will travel across the U.S. again — and my house in Austin Texas is along the path of the total solar eclipse in 2024. Since I designed “eclipse 2017” t-shirts of John and I with a photo from NASA (which as government property is public domain), I am so looking forward to designing a few “eclipse 2024 Austin” t-shirts — with my photo.
Coffee or Tea?
I don’t drink coffee, and I don’t need the caffeine, so if I had to make a choice — tea. (Unless I was at an event and everyone was having coffee and it was spiked with an appropriate liquor, maybe I could tolerate it then.)
Left or Right?
I’m left-handed. Granted, I’ve had to learn some things right-handed (like using scissors, or just learning to use a computer mouse with a right hand), but I heard that some truly creative people are left-handed, so I’m sticking with left.
(Oh, and I am not answering a liberal left-leaning political view or a conservative right-wing view, so don’t even try to guess my opinions on that. I think it is disgusting to place yourself in a wing of some set of political views. The reason why I say that is that both parties are more concerned with keeping their power rather than, oh say, doing what’s right for the country.)
Glance or Stare?
I wrote a poem about a glance titled “And I’m Wondering”. I also mentioned a stare in my poem “Andrew Hettinger”, which is probably not the type of stare you are referring to in your question.
The best role of a woman is a Mother, Wife, Sister, Daughter, or an independent woman away from all these roles? (or any other role that comes to your mind).
That answer is different for every woman. As an independent woman with no children, I am inclined to say “independent woman” for myself (though I wonder now that I have been happily married to John for approaching 18 years, if I should somehow incorporate “wife” into that title, because I would be lost without him), but every woman will fill their role in the world differently. Some women have different drives and needs in the world, so that question cannot be properly answered for all women.
Links & other relevant details:
Scars (and I) actually bought a set of ISBN numbers, and I have used a good number of them, but (thanks to the print-on-demand Internet web-verse created in recent years), a lot of recent Scars books have chosen to use ISBN numbers that are printer-specific (like the lulu printer, or the createspace printer through Amazon).
I also created a separate handle for use with Vine video releases: twitter.com/jkpoettryvine (which was also used for posts to the short-run Chris Hardwick show “@ midnight”).
Goodreads author page:
Amazon link for books:
Amazon link for CDs:
Any other links:
lulu printer books: http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?keyWords=janet+kuypers&categoryId=100501
Vine videos: https://vine.co/u/1148412281143611392