Rappahannock Review Contributor Spotlight: Interview with Jesse Waters

Jesse waters

The non-fiction editors, Rappahannock Review: Which suit is more meaningful to you-­­the bathing suit or the funeral suit-­­and why?

Jesse Waters: That’s a tough one. The living suit was something I’ll never forget, but defined me in a way that’s, well… none too flattering. And the funeral suit is something I’ll never wear again – not that you’d catch me dead in a Speedo ever again. I guess what’s more significant to me is the relationship between the two, and what a suit can be. What it means to wear something – and wear it out, and how people look at us in our respective “suits”.


RR: If you could say something to Kevin Lucky today, what would it be?

JW: I’d probably try to just shut up and let him talk. As you might imagine, that’s not his real name, though his real name DID have a weird “ironic mnemonic”. I guess I hope we’d be able to talk about our lives, what’s changed, how camp defined ­­ or undefined ­­ who we were and are. It’s like the wolf pack, I guess… he was the omega, and I was simply one creature above him. We were both outcasts, for lots of reasons, and I’d try to express the idea that my cruelty was something I’ve shed. Or hope every day I have…


RR: Had you thought about the scene with Kevin Lucky before the passing of your father, or did it resurface only when it connected to your present situation?

JW: I’d thought about him often… after all, the way I treated him was awful, and from time-­to-­time in my life I’ve felt the guilt and shame of how I acted, in all sorts of ways to all sorts of people, and his name has always resonated somewhere in my soul. But when my father died, I guess those haunts started to come back, as all ghosts do… and here he is now, paralelled against my own grief, and, hopefully, recovery.


RR: Was the lack of quotation marks something you started with originally, or did you settle on it after an initial draft?

JW: This is a technique I’ve stolen from so many before me… Aimee Bender, Lorrie Moore, Don Delillo, and it’s something that brings a kind of quietude to speaking. I’ve played with it from piece-­to-­piece… but I think it jibes well here.


RR: There’s no real indication of transition between the summer camp scene and the shopping scenes. What drove you to make this choice?

JW: Hmm… that’s a tough one, too. Mark Cox, the amazing American poet once told me that everything is a metaphor for everything else, and I’ve tried to think about that a lot. So when I write, I don’t close down anything my subconscious kicks back at me, and try to see if anything resonates with anything else. Why did these two stories come together? I guess I don’t really have any other answer than, “Yes.” I know that’s an avoidance… but it’s the best I can offer. My memories, and stories ­­ just like yours ­­all have something in common…the ‘I’. In that vein, all of our inner vibrations can find a harmony ­­ or a dissonance ­­ with anything else in our fields of living. It’s our mission as writers to find those sounds, and make a music.
“What Gets Worn” appears in Rappahannock Review Issue 2.2


Jesse Waters a winner of the 2001 River Styx International Poetry Contest, runner-up for the Iowa Review Fiction Prize and Finalist in both the DIAGRAM Innovativ.0e Fiction Prize and the 2014 Paul Bowles Fiction Award, Jesse Waters is a recipient of a 2003 NC Artist’s Grant to attend the Vermont Studio Center, and is currently Director of the Bowers Writers House at Elizabethtown College. Jesse’s fiction, poetry and non-fiction work has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes, and has appeared in such journals as 88: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry, The Adirondack Review, Coal Hill Review, The Cortland Review, Cimarron Review, Concrete Wolf, Iowa Review, Plainsongs, Magma, River Styx, Slide, Story Quarterly, Southeast Review, Sycamore Review and others. His first book of poems, Human Resources, was released by Inkbrush Press in February of 2011.