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Spotlight On: Jamie Hammon

Jamie Hammon is a junior in the BA program at Portland State University. She is studying English with a minor in Theatre. As a transfer student, she comes with a mixed bag of experience, knowledge, and love for the arts.

Q: What inspires you to create?

A: I can’t say what will consistently inspire me, but it helps to be around people whose work I admire. Also, a change of pace or scenery. It’s hard to predict when I’ll have a perspective shift, but any time I find myself in a new energetic swing, I re-commit to my best habits and try to use it creatively.

Q: What does your process look like when you are taking the seed of an idea and turning it into a finished product?

A: It’s unpredictable. Sometimes a line surprises me by arriving complete, or I’ll have some image I want to work out the line for. That’s the seed. I might be feeling voracious and just roll out a whole draft of something –especially with poems, and I’ll write letters in one go. Or, I’ll have a phrase in my Notes app that just sits for weeks, and I’m like “what is this?” I’ll let it marinate until I find out, or eventually it’ll lose its ring and get deleted. This all usually happens late, late at night. 

Q: Who are some of your favourite artists? Are these artists reflected in your work in any way?

A: I love the playwright Annie Baker because of her intensely human characters and her dialogue. She just writes real life, and I hope to someday have a modicum of that skill. She wrote the book on pauses in contemporary drama, and I hope to develop my own specific language of punctuation like she has.

It’s impossible to pick a favorite author, but I have a special relationship with Tom Robbins’ work. His books have been great friends to me for many years. I’ve never read anything of his that I didn’t enjoy. When I’m reading his fiction, I always find myself pulled away by some idea I have to write down. His writing whets my imagination, and I find his playful language permeates whatever I’m working on at the time. 

Q: How do you think your art communicates with you? How do you think it communicates with an audience? Is this communication important to the process of your art?

A: Well, my writing tells me where I am, which isn’t always very close to where I thought I was. It lays things bare– shows me what’s really on my mind. I have conversations with myself. Sometimes they’re very productive, and sometimes they’re a little abusive, and sometimes they are extremely loving and merciful.

I haven’t really thought about my relationship to audience at this stage. All my tools have come from learning about the world through my self, and vice versa, so that’s where my writing comes from. And if someday people identify with my writing and feel seen, like I have to others’ work, that would make me very, very happy. 

Q: What makes you happy?

A: Normal stuff like warm weather with a slight breeze, putting on my slippers when I get home, good tacos, petting dogs, and when people laugh at my jokes.

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