Lowell Jaeger is founding editor of Many Voices Press and has edited two anthologies of Montana poets, Poems Across the Big Sky I (2007) and Poems Across the Big Sky II (2017). He also edited New Poets of the American West, an anthology of poets from western states. Lowell has taught writing classes at numerous conferences and workshops and is currently Professor of English/Creative Writing at Flathead Valley Community College (Kalispell, Montana), where he also serves as Humanities Division Chair. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, winner of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize, and recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council. Lowell was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for his work in promoting civil civic discourse. He is the author of seven collections of poems. His poetry leads you to the wonderful places and feeds your soul... JBN: Let’s say you happen to overhear two poets talking about poetry. One of them asks the more well-read poet, “What stands out most about Lowell Jaeger’ poetry?” What do you hope the responding poet notices about your work? Lowell Jaeger: This is a good question. Makes me think . . . . Here’s how I would like to be understood: My poems are all about people. Even when I ‘m writing about animals, I’m writing about people, about how humans relate to animals. So that’s first of all; my poems are somewhat obsessed with the “human condition,” what it means to be alive in this world. My poems are largely narratives. I love telling stories, and I do rely on the power of stories to convey larger meanings. Stories are an essential part of the human condition; we all enjoy telling stories, and we all enjoy hearing stories. So that’s two noteworthy characteristics of my poems. A third characteristic would be that my poems celebrate and illuminate common people and ordinary daily events and interactions. For me, I “feel a poem happening” when I see how extraordinary, strange, and wonderful are the ordinary affairs and concerns of ordinary folks. No matter how plain our lives may be, it’s miraculous we are here at all. That’s my main message. JBN: You said you like to work with students. What do you particularly like about it? Perhaps you will recall interesting cases from your practice? Lowell Jaeger: I’ve been teaching now for nearly 40 years. Mostly I’ve been teaching Freshman Composition, the “bone-head” English course required of all entering college students. I’ve come to love teaching this course most of all. It’s a thrill to me to see students discovering themselves through writing. My students begin my course by writing a series of personal essays and by journaling daily. My goal is to nudge students to pay closer attention to their own thoughts, their own biases, their own insights. “Know thyself,” said Socrates. It’s important we know ourselves before we can truly understand the thoughts of others. Once we know ourselves, we can better listen to others. Once we start listening to others, we can engage in meaningful conversation. Once we’ve practice meaningful conversation, we can participate in the great on-going dialogues of our society. On a teacher evaluation form, one of my students wrote this: “I never learned so much from a teacher who taught me nothing.” There’s humor and irony in that statement. I see it as a huge compliment. This student understood that my overarching goal in teaching is to nudge students toward self-discovery. A final thought here: I love teaching because I’m a life-long learner. I learn a lot from my students. Each semester, as students share their stories, I learn more and more about the basic truths of existence. Also, I promise my students that just as I expect them to practice writing I will practice along beside them. So teaching keeps me thinking, keeps me writing. I feel blessed. JBN: Can you really learn to write poetry? I mean if a person has not found a special talent in him/herself. Lowell Jaeger: I feel strongly about this: anyone can write poetry. Anyone can sing. Anyone can dance. Anyone can make art. Especially when we are very young, we all sing and dance and draw and employ language creatively. Sure, some people are born with more specialized talent than others. We don’t all have to be great and famous poets to write a poem. Each of us can write what’s in his or her own heart. All art is human expression. In each of us, there’s something yearning toward expression. “I’d rather teach a single bird to sing,” said the poet e.e. cummings, “than teach a thousand stars how not to dance.” Let’s sing. Let’s dance. Let’s write poems. JBN: Please tell us about your organization Many Voices Press? What projects are you planning now? Lowell Jaeger: Many Voices Press was founded in 2005 as a non-profit small press of Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana a snowball’s throw from Glacier National Park. I teach creative writing and freshman composiition at FVCC, and basically my small office at the college doubles as the world headquarters for Many Voices Press, which is to say that on many occasions it’s difficult to find a place in this office to sit down. We are staffed entirely by non-paid volunteers, including myself as Editor; Hannah Bissell, our Assistant Editor. Our guiding vision is to be of service to Montana poets, especially Native American poets, though our recent anthology, New Poets of the American West , reaches out to poets across the West. It’s difficult for poets in rural places to connect with appreciative audiences and the larger literary community. We aim to help rural poets make connections. Simply put, there’s a lot of talent in rural places that goes unnoticed. Also we are in the business of expanding audiences for poetry. We are proud to say that New Poets of the American West generated over 50 literary readings/events across the West, including readings at some of the West’s most prominent independent bookstores We have received several small grants, including a “Book Subvention Grant” from Humanities Montana, for which we are ever grateful. Having said that, the money it takes to print our books comes mostly from the generosity of people who donate cash--five, ten, twenty dollars at a time. It’s been a heartwarming experience for me to see how many people are willing to give to a good non-profit cause. Book sales are our second largest source of funding, though anyone who has ever run a small press knows how difficult it can be to market what you print. Large distributors ignore most small presses, especially if you’re trying to sell them books of poems Another point of pride for our press is our commitment to the diversity of languages in the West. New Poets of the American West includes poems in Spanish as well as poems in Dakota, Navajo, Assiniboine, and Salish. Victor Charlo’s book, Good Enough , includes poems in Salish; Lois Red Elk’s book, Our Blood Remembers , includes poems in Dakota as well as a glossary of Dakota words and phrases. There are many voices in rural places, and Many Voices Press wishes to honor them all. To date, we’ve published: Poems Across the Big Sky  (2007) – an anthology of 120 Montana poets         Good Enough  by Victor A. Charlo, (2008) spiritual leader of the Flathead Salish         New Poets of the American West (2010) – and anthology of 260 poets from 11 states.        Our Blood Remembers  (2011) by Lois Red Elk Lakota elder Nakoda Sky People (2012) by Minerva Allen Assiniboine elder Why I Return to Makoci (2015) by Lois Red Elk Poems Across the Big Sky II (2017) – an anthology of over 100 Montana poets Dirty Corner Poems and Stories (2018) by Victor A. Charlo JBN: Poems Across the Big Sky and Poems Across the Big Sky II... Is the publication of these books something special for you? Lowell Jaeger: Both the Poems Across the Big Sky anthologies are efforts to build literary friendships, collaborations, and community across Montana. We live in such a big state, and such great expanses of space separate us. These anthologies, I hope, have helped to introduce poets to one another, helped to bring poets together. In rural and remote locations, talent too often goes unrecognized. There’s so much talent here. So much talent everywhere. JBN: What is your writing and editing process like? How long does it generally take you to finish a poem? Lowell Jaeger: Is a poem ever finished? I hope not. Picasso, when asked which was his favorite of all his painting, said, “The next one.” I feel that way about my poems. Each next poem is another small piece in the larger puzzle. I tend to fall thoroughly in love with each poem as I begin to scribble it in my notebook. Love is blind, and maybe that’s a blessing which allows me the courage to put words on the page in the first place. Later I go back to the same poem with a more objective eye. I guess that’s what I’d call “editing.” It’s a lucky moment when I go back to a poem and find that whatever I’d loved in the first place is still there. JBN: What Poets Do You Read? Lowell Jaeger: I read poems every day. I loved Writer’s Almanac, which sent a poem to my email in-box daily. Now I get poems in my email inbox daily from other sources, too. I submit my work to journals twice yearly. I try my best to read the poems in these journals, and often I’m rewarded by hearing new voices, new possibilities. Favorite poets? Frost. Whitman. Ted Kooser. Richard Wilbur. Mary Oliver. JBN: What are your primary interests outside of poetry? How do you integrate these interests into your poetry? Lowell Jaeger: I’ve been a silversmith/goldsmith for over 40 years. I like to work with my hands. It’s a sort of meditation, and it feels good to make something I can hold up to the light and know I’d fashioned it. Now, my son has become a professional fossil digger-upper. He takes me on trips to dig for dino bones. This has become my passion also. It’s in my blood-line. Jaegers love rocks, love hunting for treasures. Writers need to live broadly, to have many interests, and to enthusiastically engage in the world around them. It all comes out in the writing, in small ways and big ways. JBN:. Poetry for you is... Lowell Jaeger: Another great question. Here’s how I’d answer: Poetry (all art) is an anti-anesthetic. An anesthetic is used to numb the senses and dull the mind. Art does the opposite. Art invites us to wake up, to feel, to think. That’s what great poems do. That’s what I want my poems to do, too.
Johnson’s Billings News
Hosted by Johnson Computing
They are read.  We are Quoted!!!
Lowell Jaeger : For me, I “feel a poem happening” when I see how extraordinary, strange, and wonderful are the ordinary affairs and concerns of ordinary folks.
Interview
Lowell Jaeger is founding editor of Many Voices Press and has edited two anthologies of Montana poets, Poems Across the Big Sky I (2007) and Poems Across the Big Sky II (2017). He also edited New Poets of the American West, an anthology of poets from western states. Lowell has taught writing classes at numerous conferences and workshops and is currently Professor of English/Creative Writing at Flathead Valley Community College (Kalispell, Montana), where he also serves as Humanities Division Chair. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, winner of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize, and recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council. Lowell was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for his work in promoting civil civic discourse. He is the author of seven collections of poems. His poetry leads you to the wonderful places and feeds your soul... JBN: Let’s say you happen to overhear two poets talking about poetry. One of them asks the more well-read poet, “What stands out most about Lowell Jaeger’ poetry?” What do you hope the responding poet notices about your work? Lowell Jaeger: This is a good question. Makes me think . . . . Here’s how I would like to be understood: My poems are all about people. Even when I ‘m writing about animals, I’m writing about people, about how humans relate to animals. So that’s first of all; my poems are somewhat obsessed with the “human condition,” what it means to be alive in this world. My poems are largely narratives. I love telling stories, and I do rely on the power of stories to convey larger meanings. Stories are an essential part of the human condition; we all enjoy telling stories, and we all enjoy hearing stories. So that’s two noteworthy characteristics of my poems. A third characteristic would be that my poems celebrate and illuminate common people and ordinary daily events and interactions. For me, I “feel a poem happening” when I see how extraordinary, strange, and wonderful are the ordinary affairs and concerns of ordinary folks. No matter how plain our lives may be, it’s miraculous we are here at all. That’s my main message. JBN: You said you like to work with students. What do you particularly like about it? Perhaps you will recall interesting cases from your practice? Lowell Jaeger: I’ve been teaching now for nearly 40 years. Mostly I’ve been teaching Freshman Composition, the “bone-head” English course required of all entering college students. I’ve come to love teaching this course most of all. It’s a thrill to me to see students discovering themselves through writing. My students begin my course by writing a series of personal essays and by journaling daily. My goal is to nudge students to pay closer attention to their own thoughts, their own biases, their own insights. “Know thyself,” said Socrates. It’s important we know ourselves before we can truly understand the thoughts of others. Once we know ourselves, we can better listen to others. Once we start listening to others, we can engage in meaningful conversation. Once we’ve practice meaningful conversation, we can participate in the great on-going dialogues of our society. On a teacher evaluation form, one of my students wrote this: “I never learned so much from a teacher who taught me nothing.” There’s humor and irony in that statement. I see it as a huge compliment. This student understood that my overarching goal in teaching is to nudge students toward self-discovery. A final thought here: I love teaching because I’m a life-long learner. I learn a lot from my students. Each semester, as students share their stories, I learn more and more about the basic truths of existence. Also, I promise my students that just as I expect them to practice writing I will practice along beside them. So teaching keeps me thinking, keeps me writing. I feel blessed. JBN: Can you really learn to write poetry? I mean if a person has not found a special talent in him/herself. Lowell Jaeger: I feel strongly about this: anyone can write poetry. Anyone can sing. Anyone can dance. Anyone can make art. Especially when we are very young, we all sing and dance and draw and employ language creatively. Sure, some people are born with more specialized talent than others. We don’t all have to be great and famous poets to write a poem. Each of us can write what’s in his or her own heart. All art is human expression. In each of us, there’s something yearning toward expression. “I’d rather teach a single bird to sing,” said the poet e.e. cummings, “than teach a thousand stars how not to dance.” Let’s sing. Let’s dance. Let’s write poems. JBN: Please tell us about your organization Many Voices Press? What projects are you planning now? Lowell Jaeger: Many Voices Press was founded in 2005 as a non-profit small press of Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana a snowball’s throw from Glacier National Park. I teach creative writing and freshman composiition at FVCC, and basically my small office at the college doubles as the world headquarters for Many Voices Press, which is to say that on many occasions it’s difficult to find a place in this office to sit down. We are staffed entirely by non- paid volunteers, including myself as Editor; Hannah Bissell, our Assistant Editor. Our guiding vision is to be of service to Montana poets, especially Native American poets, though our recent anthology, New Poets of the American West , reaches out to poets across the West. It’s difficult for poets in rural places to connect with appreciative audiences and the larger literary community. We aim to help rural poets make connections. Simply put, there’s a lot of talent in rural places that goes unnoticed. Also we are in the business of expanding audiences for poetry. We are proud to say that New Poets of the American West generated over 50 literary readings/events across the West, including readings at some of the West’s most prominent independent bookstores We have received several small grants, including a “Book Subvention Grant” from Humanities Montana, for which we are ever grateful. Having said that, the money it takes to print our books comes mostly from the generosity of people who donate cash--five, ten, twenty dollars at a time. It’s been a heartwarming experience for me to see how many people are willing to give to a good non-profit cause. Book sales are our second largest source of funding, though anyone who has ever run a small press knows how difficult it can be to market what you print. Large distributors ignore most small presses, especially if you’re trying to sell them books of poems Another point of pride for our press is our commitment to the diversity of languages in the West. New Poets of the American West includes poems in Spanish as well as poems in Dakota, Navajo, Assiniboine, and Salish. Victor Charlo’s book, Good Enough , includes poems in Salish; Lois Red Elk’s book, Our Blood Remembers , includes poems in Dakota as well as a glossary of Dakota words and phrases. There are many voices in rural places, and Many Voices Press wishes to honor them all. To date, we’ve published: Poems Across the Big Sky  (2007) – an anthology of 120 Montana poets         Good Enough  by Victor A. Charlo, (2008) spiritual leader of the Flathead Salish         New Poets of the American West (2010) – and anthology of 260 poets from 11 states.        Our Blood Remembers  (2011) by Lois Red Elk Lakota elder Nakoda Sky People (2012) by Minerva Allen Assiniboine elder Why I Return to Makoci (2015) by Lois Red Elk Poems Across the Big Sky II (2017) – an anthology of over 100 Montana poets Dirty Corner Poems and Stories (2018) by Victor A. Charlo JBN: Poems Across the Big Sky and Poems Across the Big Sky II... Is the publication of these books something special for you? Lowell Jaeger: Both the Poems Across the Big Sky anthologies are efforts to build literary friendships, collaborations, and community across Montana. We live in such a big state, and such great expanses of space separate us. These anthologies, I hope, have helped to introduce poets to one another, helped to bring poets together. In rural and remote locations, talent too often goes unrecognized. There’s so much talent here. So much talent everywhere. JBN: What is your writing and editing process like? How long does it generally take you to finish a poem? Lowell Jaeger: Is a poem ever finished? I hope not. Picasso, when asked which was his favorite of all his painting, said, “The next one.” I feel that way about my poems. Each next poem is another small piece in the larger puzzle. I tend to fall thoroughly in love with each poem as I begin to scribble it in my notebook. Love is blind, and maybe that’s a blessing which allows me the courage to put words on the page in the first place. Later I go back to the same poem with a more objective eye. I guess that’s what I’d call “editing.” It’s a lucky moment when I go back to a poem and find that whatever I’d loved in the first place is still there. JBN: What Poets Do You Read? Lowell Jaeger: I read poems every day. I loved Writer’s Almanac, which sent a poem to my email in-box daily. Now I get poems in my email inbox daily from other sources, too. I submit my work to journals twice yearly. I try my best to read the poems in these journals, and often I’m rewarded by hearing new voices, new possibilities. Favorite poets? Frost. Whitman. Ted Kooser. Richard Wilbur. Mary Oliver. JBN: What are your primary interests outside of poetry? How do you integrate these interests into your poetry? Lowell Jaeger: I’ve been a silversmith/goldsmith for over 40 years. I like to work with my hands. It’s a sort of meditation, and it feels good to make something I can hold up to the light and know I’d fashioned it. Now, my son has become a professional fossil digger-upper. He takes me on trips to dig for dino bones. This has become my passion also. It’s in my blood-line. Jaegers love rocks, love hunting for treasures. Writers need to live broadly, to have many interests, and to enthusiastically engage in the world around them. It all comes out in the writing, in small ways and big ways. JBN:. Poetry for you is... Lowell Jaeger: Another great question. Here’s how I’d answer: Poetry (all art) is an anti-anesthetic. An anesthetic is used to numb the senses and dull the mind. Art does the opposite. Art invites us to wake up, to feel, to think. That’s what great poems do. That’s what I want my poems to do, too.
Johnson’s Billings News
Interview
Hosted by Johnson Computing
They are read.  We are Quoted!!!
Lowell Jaeger : For me, I “feel a poem happening” when I see how extraordinary, strange, and wonderful are the ordinary affairs and concerns of ordinary folks.