Smoking With Barbara Jacksha

Read the Story December 15, 2003

Do you find that living in New Mexico has any effects on your writing?

Living near Santa Fe has definitely shaped my writing. The physical beauty of the area has grounded my work firmly in the natural world—even my ordinary, daily walks have inspired several pieces. Santa Fe is also a remarkable artistic and cultural nexus, which is great food for any writer’s imagination.

How do you feel about flash versus other literary forms?

I love the way flash can bring together the seductive elements of story with the language and intensity often seen in poetry. Reading a flash piece is like eating a single, ripe strawberry. It’s a small bite, but there’s so much to experience and enjoy.

You’re stranded on the proverbial desert island. What three books do you have with you?

I’d bring “Mama Day” by Gloria Naylor because I find new magic in that book every time I read it. I’d also bring “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle to help remind me what it really means to be stranded on a desert island. And then I’d bring a nice fat blank book to keep me from scribbling in the margins of the other two.

What all was entailed in the Pushcart process?

In the Pushcart process, I simply enjoyed the ride. I had a short story published by Carve Magazine. A month or so later, I got a very nice letter from the publisher saying that my story was one of Carve‘s Pushcart nominations for the year. At that point, I celebrated and crossed my fingers. My story wasn’t chosen, but the nomination was a big thrill.

I love the image of men as migratory birds. What inspired this piece?

Like many of my stories, this piece started with a single line that stuck in my mind: ‘she spent a season by the sea.’ I imagined a woman arriving at the shore knowing that she was looking for something, but having no clue as to the ‘what.’ Nature and solitude would be her teachers. I didn’t plan the image of men as birds, but when it appeared, I knew it was right. Those unexpected lines are always such a gift.

What’s your favorite time of day to write? Why?

I like to write anytime after my morning cup of tea and before my late afternoon exercise time. During the day I have minimal interruptions—even my dogs have learned the phrase ‘Barb is working.’ I always thought it sounded romantic to work at night, in a cozy office lit with candles, but the reality never measured up. Being a morning person, I’m better off with a good night’s sleep and an early start the next day.

About the Author:

Barbara Jacksha is an editor and co-founder of the literary journal Cezanne's Carrot (www.cezannescarrot.org). Her work has appeared in the W. W. Norton anthology Flash Fiction Forward, as well as in such publications as Beloit Fiction Journal, The Summerset Review, Vox, Carve Magazine, Mad Hatter’s Review, Margin, Peregrine, Mindprints, Poetry Midwest, Tattoo Highway, SmokeLong Quarterly, Dark Moon Lilith, Talking Stick, and Quercus Review. Barbara’s work has received many honors and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. For more information, visit her website: www.barbarajacksha.com. Barbara lives near Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband, resident canines, and several neighborhood coyotes.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.