Jessa Forest writes poetry and dark fiction. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks and The Slaughter Chronicles, a grimdark, Lovecraftian-esque paranormal fantasy about werewolves. Her stories question the definable borders of reality and indulge in the gritty, visceral aspects of contemporary fantasy. She was born in Arkansas, USA.
Writing this now, I am 34 years old and I have never been stung by a bee. I’ve also never broken a bone. Please do not think that I am graceful, I’m just very, very lucky.
I love to travel and try not to stay in one place for more than 3 or 4 years. I have lived in Panama, the UK, and various parts of the eastern and south US. But now I’m back in my hometown in Arkansas to write The Slaughter Chronicles and earn a degree in Laboratory Science. Because biology and indie publishing go so well together….
The American South and the Delta in particular, have a special place in my heart. The rivers here have great stories.
In 2015 I married my best friend (Mr. J) but because of his job we’re enjoying a long-distance relationship right now. We’ve only lived together three out of the five years we’ve been married so far.
Our conversations appear from time to time in my Daily Life Blog.
If you’re a birder, check out my life list. I’m still very much an amateur so it’s not very long.
I also love cats. I have three, their names are Leela, Titain (pronounced Titan), and Tiny Rick (a Rick and Morty reference). Tiny Rick has FIV, feline immunodeficiency virus. When we adopted him (read: he wandered into our apartment while I was bringing in groceries during a storm) and took him to the vet, they didn’t give him long to live and offered to put him down right away. That was back in 2017. He’s still with us. You can find all of the cat pics on my Instagram.
I also build and paint Warhammer 40K miniatures and have very recently adopted a betta fish. His name is Lucky. The cats love him.
About my Poetry
Sylvia Plath said poetry is the blood jet. Nick Mount, on Sylvia Plath’s Ariel, said the lyric poem is a frozen moment in time. Lynda Barry said an image is the formless thing which gives things form.
With poetry I try to freeze (or plasticine) specific moments that convey an image that I want to understand better. Sometimes those images are granular and visceral. Sometimes those images are surreal and oil-slick wavy.
I’m not a huge fan of form or rhyme but I love sestinas and haiku. Poet Hali Sofala-Jones said the villanelle was a way for her to play with her obsessions. I need to try that. And even though I hate writing sonnets, one of my goals is to create a crown of sonnets that obeys all the rules.
I’m also a huge fan of hybrid/experimental poetry and the lyric essay. In 2012 I earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College where the cross-genre lyrical narrative was my main focus. You can read more of my thoughts on hybrid poetry here.
One day I am going to write a blog post about the relevance and credibility of the MFA. There is a lot of controversy and stigma out there attached to creative writing graduate programs, including my own. I’ll just briefly say here that I do NOT believe you need a degree in writing to write or be any kind of authority. However, there are some very positive experiences that can be gotten out of MFA programs.
About my Fiction
The Slaughter Chronicles is a grimdark paranormal fantasy about werewolves and other monsters. The main point of this story is that not all monsters are “bad” and most times the real monsters are the humans. But there are also not-human monsters that are really, really bad.
In addition to The Slaughter Chronicles I have my 2016 nanowrimo project, another paranormal fantasy about faeries. But those characters haven’t spoken to me in a while so I have no idea when that book (or series) will take center stage.
I also have a slightly more militaristic, dystopian fantasy about dragons, another dystopian YA novel about a scavenger-girl living in a landfill that I started way back in 2010 that I never finished, and a zombie story from the point of view of a cat.
Someday I might get around to finishing all these things. I might not. But I hope I do. I want to write all the books.
I actively look for independent artists to commission for character concept art and use My Custom Book Cover for some of my cover designs. I also make my own covers.
For all things editing I rely on the amazing folks at Proof Positive.
Pushcart Nomination, The Camel Saloon, 2011.
Arkansas Writers’ Conference Rita Goodgame Award 2nd Place Prize, 2010.
North American Discworld Convention Creosote’s Poetry Contest 3rd Place Prize, 2009.
Hollins University Lex Allen Literary Festival 1st Place Poetry Prize, 2008.
Randolph College Margaret Raynal Fiction Award 2nd Place Prize, 2005.
Academy of American Poets Honorable Mention, 2005.
Knowing Our Past Foundation “Creative Response of the Human Spirit” 2nd Place Prize, 2003.