Jasmine Arch

dragon's lament, poem, issue 51, June 2020

Poet, writer, narrator and kitchen witch Jasmine Arch lives in a rural little corner of Belgium with two horses, four dogs, and a husband who knows better than to distract her when she's writing. Other than the long-suffering husband, her love of the written word in all its iterations and incarnations knows no rival though coffee, shoes, and fine mead come fairly close. Her work has appeared in Illumen Magazine, The Other Stories Podcast, and Nightingale & Sparrow, among other places.  

Get to know Jasmine...

Birthdate: May 6th, 1983

When did you start writing? 

That's a tricky one. I've always been creative in some way or another. But writing? I believe it was when I was 13. My Dutch teacher (that's my native language) sent us out into the park with pencil, paper, and instructions to not come back without some haiku. I ran out of paper before the hour was out. Distilling images into those one-breath-length snippets of poem became addictive for a while. Then I started art school and I just didn't have the time to write.

I picked it up again years later, when I was 26. First with a blog about yarn work. Nice, safe, and not too personal. I was one of those people who thought writers and poets are like unicorns. You can't just decide to be one. Then, when I couldn't resist anymore, I started in Dutch. And my prose felt overwrought and stilted. Dutch has a complicated rhythm and it easily turns your words a lovely neon purple. Since Dutch speculative literature is hard to come by, I had always been a voracious English reader. And when I tried my hand at writing in English, something clicked into place for me. The rhythm and syntax suits me so much better. It was like the fairytale of the red dancing shoes. Once I started, I couldn't stop.

When and where did you first get published?

In January 2019, my poem Mask was published in the Winter issue of Illumen Magazine.

Why do you write?

Because it keeps me sane. I started writing with a story based on a traumatic event I experienced. That was my way of processing it from the safe distance of a third person POV. But once I let story ideas bubble to the surface, they kept coming. That has to go somewhere. I'm at a point now where I need to let the pressure off in time. If I go too long without writing, I become a difficult person to live with.

Why do you write Science fiction and/or Fantasy?

It's what I grew up on. My mother and older brother were huge readers and they passed that love on to me. And since I worked my way through the youth library long before I was allowed in the adult section, all I had was my brother's extensive collection of pulpy science fiction and fantasy novels. I probably read a lot of things you wouldn't exactly consider age appropriate, and I don't remember half of it now. But I spent so much of my formative years immersed in magic and spaceships that I have a hard time staying out of those worlds now.

And it's good for you. It cultivates the imagination and it allows you to hold up a mirror to yourself as well as society in a way few other genres can for me.

Who is your favorite author/poet? Your favorite story/poem?

My favorite author right now would be TJ Berry. I read her debut novel Space Unicorn Blues last year, and book two Five Unicorn Flush, is on my wish list right now. As soon as I find enough peace and quiet to actually sit and read. The way she combines magic, spaceships, and utter chaos is delightful. And did I mention it has unicorns?

Please don't make me choose a favorite poet. I can narrow it down to two though. Hester Pulter is the first. I first learned about her last year through a podcast focused on trailblazing women who were forgotten by history, and she's a textbook example. Literally no one knew her work existed until someone discovered her manuscript in the Leeds library in 1996. Since then, her work as been digitised and is available in at The Pulter Project. Go on and have a look. You won't regret it.

The second poet is a good bit more recent. I discovered her through her poem Daedal, published in the May issue of Poetry Magazine. The poem--a villanelle--is inspired by the myth of the Minotaur, and almost feels like a maze itself. Especially in spoken form. It's so easy to let yourself fall into the rhythm, that you need to listen to it a second time to really savour the words and images. And she makes it look so effortless. If I can ever manage that, I can die in peace.

What are you trying to say with your poetry?

I think I mostly want to challenge people to look beyond their own experience. I'm very eclectic in my writing but that's one thing that always comes through, both in my speculative and in my more literary poems. Dragon's Lament for example, came from a desire to write about how little respect we often show to what we don't know or understand. And I do have a soft spot for non-human POVs.

If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?

Here lies Jasmine. If you dare cry, she'll come back to haunt you. Celebrate her life with a nice beer and one of her stories instead.

Do you blog?

I try to. Does that count? On my own website, JasmineArch.com, I post a lot of reviews, as well as trying to keep up with the work you can find out there of mine, in my reading nook. But consistency is not my strong suit. 

Although lately, I've been blogging a lot for the blog and poscast I'm starting up with two friends, called Mythsterhood of the Travelling Tales. Our first season will launch on June 21st and will be about dragons too. Go figure. Turns out I'm fond of those.

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