There are some people who are just naturally RAD–it’s just the truth. One of those people is Jack Bedell.
Folks, I don’t make the rules. Jack is a real poet rock star, and was even the Poet Laureate of Louisiana from 2017-2019. I’m super stoked that he agreed to do a Drunkerview with us!
Sit back, relax, grab a couple cold ones, and enjoy the show!
How often do you write? Would you say you follow a strict schedule?
My schedule was definitely a lot stricter before the lockdown happened in the spring. Before then, I did my best to meet up with friends to write in a coffee shop once a week after I dropped my kids off at school. I’m way more productive when I can work with other writers in a public place with plenty of bustle and noise. That stuff helps me focus, for sure. And working with other writers has always felt like going to the gym with a partner to me. No way I can just sit around answering emails or surfing online if my partners are putting the work in.
These days with public spaces and work groups limited, I do my best to make time for writing once or twice a week. It’s really hard to do at the house, though, with 1000 channels to surf and chores to do. Luckily, I’m usually still able to shame myself into writing every week.
You were the Poet Laureate of Louisiana from 2017-2019. Sounds pretty fancy. What does that mean and did that come with a lifetime supply of Burger King?
We don’t really do fancy down here! When I got the call from the Governor, I took it as a call to get to work. It was a real privilege serving my home state as an ambassador for poetry and the arts. It gave me a chance to go all over the place doing readings and holding workshops with some phenomenal writers. We have some exceptional writers and voices here in Louisiana, young and old. It was a joy shining some light on those people during my tenure.
Unfortunately, no Burger King with the job. Just a bunch of really cool, talented people who are friends for life now.
Your dream rock band. Go.
In real life? Almost ashamed to admit this, but the only band I ever slept on the sidewalk to get tickets to see was the Whitesnake line up that had Tommy Aldridge, Rudy Sarzo, Vivian Campbell, and Adrian Vandenberg in it. That was most certainly a dream crew.
In fantasy land, I always hoped Rush would replace Alex Lifeson with Rik Emmett from Triumph. The vocals would’ve cracked glass with Emmett and Geddy Lee singing harmonies!
Be honest: nu metal isn’t that bad, right?
Bad?!?! If you’re including Deftones, that’s the sound the blood makes flowing through my body! I listened to a fair amount of Korn, too, prior to the singer’s conversion.
Everyone has a favorite bar. What’s yours?
Getting a little misty thinking of pre-Rona joys with this one, but I’d go with the tap room at my local brewery, Gnarly Barley. Those guys make the smoothest porters I’ve ever tasted, and their stouts are outrageous. Lately, I’ve been hitting them up for 40-ounce cans of their barleywine, too. Definitely miss hanging in the bar on weekends, though. Just waiting for Louisiana to move to Phase 3!
You just won a million dollars. What do you do with it all?
On the reals, I’d have to give St. Jude’s Hospital 10% off the top. Lost too many family members to cancer not to do that. Then I’d definitely buy some land next to a body of water somewhere out of the heat and humidity to put a cabin on. Would beg my wife to let me fix up my 2007 FJ Cruiser with a rooftop tent and an awning, but she’d most likely make us store all the rest of the money out of sight and mind for our three kids.
Any current projects you’re working on lately?
I’ve got a new collection, Color All Maps New, coming out from Mercer University Press in January. Also have a finished manuscript, Against the Woods’ Dark Trunks, in queue at a few presses. Working my tail off trying to finish my current collection, Ghost Forrest, before the year’s up.
Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature. He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019. Twitter: @jackbedell
Shawn Berman (@sbb_writer) runs The Daily Drunk. His favorite video game is Halo 3.