Author Q & A with Jane Muschenetz
August 18, 2022
This week’s Author Q&A is with Jane Muschenetz. Jane (Yevgenia!) is a Ukrainian-born, Russian-speaking Jew, who was granted asylum as a refugee in the US at ten years old. Today, she is a fully-grown MIT nerd, mother, and emerging artist and writer. She is currently working on her first poetry chapbook, “All the Bad Girls Wear Russian Accents,” forthcoming in 2023 from Kelsay Books, and is expecting her first CNF essay, “‘Nothing to Talk About, a Fairytale in 5 Acts,” to be released in September.
Her poem “For Those of Us Forced to Flee” was the 2022 Honeybee Prize winner and appears in our Summer issue.
We asked Jane to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of the poem.
Her response: “In this time, when my birth country of Ukraine is under siege, so many of us are feeling our sense of security and ‘home’ shifting beneath our feet. How to find hope and belonging despite the rise in domestic violence, political division, isolation, and deaths of despair? Despite the fact it has been over 30 years since my family and I fled the Soviet regime to establish a new life in America, I was surprised how relevant those experiences felt in our present world.”
We then asked her to share what fuels her desire to write.
Her response: “Hope. I think the right poem, at the right time, can save a life as much as the right surgery can. (This holds both for the writer of that poem and the reader of it.) Writers/poets from all walks of life, across languages and centuries, whose words ring a truth inside me and make me feel a deep human connection despite our apparent differences, inspire me.”
We could not agree more! The human connections we make during our one precious life are so valuable and as writers we have to recognize that sharing our work can help others feel less alone in the struggle. It really can make a difference!
We then asked Jane to share her biggest fear as a writer.
Her response: “Often, I get these doom-spiral thoughts questioning the point of all this writing. The world is full of voices so much more salient, talented and capable than mine, after all. I have to immediately give that part of me a hug. What’s the point of not writing? I have learned to ask back.”
That’s the nemesis of many emerging (and established) writers. It also plays into what Jane shared is the most difficult part of the artistic process for her.
“As an emerging writer, I am just starting to learn about navigating this world professionally, which, for a long time, seemed like a faraway dream. Figuring out how to get my work out to readers, building my writing community, and using my time efficiently, is a big learning process.”
On the flip side, we asked her about the most satisfying part of the artistic process.
Her response: “Completing a poem, that “yes” feeling when reading it to myself, knowing it says something true and beautiful.”
We asked Jane what she likes to read and/or what the biggest influences are in her writing.
Her response: “Poetry, of course. I am a sucker for Fantasy, Fairytales, Young Adult-a good story. Lately, I’ve also been reading historical perspectives on writers and thinkers in times of political strife -giving myself a mini ‘Course 101’ in gender studies and civil liberties.”
And lastly, when we asked what she thinks of when she hears the phrase “The good life.”
Her response: “The word ‘peace’ immediately comes to mind, and the health to enjoy it. My wish for myself and all of us is–be well… well-loved, well-fed, well-traveled, and well-read.”
She also expressed her gratitude to those reading for spending time with her work.
Thank you for that Jane! Having more “peace” in the world for individuals and society, in general, would go a long way toward healing the damage caused by so much conflict. We want to thank you for sharing and participating in our Q&A and congratulate you for winning this year’s prize! We are grateful that you gave us the opportunity to publish your words!!
~The Good Life Review Team