Poetry News

Janice Gould Discusses The Force of Gratitude

By Harriet Staff
Janice Gould, The Forces of Gratitude, cover

Poetry Northwest guest editor Jennifer Elise Foerster talks to Janice Gould about her recent chapbook, The Force of Gratitude (Headmistress Press, 2017), with a focus on the landscape of Northern California, how Gould became a writer and part of the Bay Area community, and writing poems as part of a quest for love. An excerpt from their conversation:

Love is a strong thread through your poems.

I think when I was younger, my first thoughts were, will I find love? And then, will I be able to love? Not just will somebody love me, but is there a way that I can express my love in the world, is there somebody for me to love out there?

Do you think writing poems was part of that quest, of finding love?

Yeah, because I think you have to find a language to talk about it, and poetry was one way. Before I had poetry, I had music. I had songs. Songs were the way that I tried to talk about the things I felt and wanted and needed in my life. Songs were also the way I could share with other people. We lived in a time where playing music and singing was not an unusual thing to do. People felt a sense of, “we’re together in this,” and would just get together and sing about it.  

Even in the 70s, when we started organizing and being parts of larger political groups, Gay Pride for example, there was always a place for music and for people to get together and sing. And it was tremendously fun. So I think that was part of the accompaniment of my life. But it wasn’t enough. I think that’s why I turned to poetry.

So music is an accompaniment, in a way, to poetry.

I think it was also a vehicle for self-realization, at first, and certainly a way to connect to other people and have a sense of community. I just ordered a book from the library on the New Song Movement that emerged in the ‘60s in Chile. That song movement came up when I was a young person and singing. And it also influenced the organizing and the kinds of songs we would sing. Like at Gay Pride: we weren’t singing Gay Pride songs necessarily, we were singing songs of liberation from other countries. A whole group of people were gathered at Berkeley singing: “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido.” Everybody knew it!

Read on at Poetry Northwest.

Originally Published: August 11th, 2017