Poet Jon Sands visits CHS Poetry Club

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Poet Jon Sands visits CHS Poetry Club

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Jon Sand's book, The New Clean

On November 17, Poetry Club was visited by poet Jon Sands, who answered questions and read some of his own work. He gave no introduction as he stood in front of the club. Instead, as everyone settled down, he went straight to reading, his loud voice filling the small library. 

“Youth poetry is really picking up,” said Sands. “In Cincinnati, my poetry was always taught to me, I think, by people who didn’t love poetry.” To Sands, poetry was just another subject, schoolwork to be left in the classroom.

Things changed, he recalled, when he was a senior in college. Sands bought a journal while backpacking with his brother and wrote throughout his travels. “I started writing poems … and within a year and a half I was moving to New York to try to do it professionally.”

Jon Sands speaking

Sands’s writing process has changed greatly over the years, and he has grown much more confident. “I trust that if anything pops into my mind, there’s a reason for it. So often I’ll be sitting there and I’ll be writing and I used to be like, ‘man that doesn’t even make sense, how this would go to this and this would go to this’,” said Sands. “Now I feel way, way more comfortable jumping around.”

As Sands continued with his reading, it was clear that he drew from a wide pool of inspiration. His poems were about anything from his young nephew, to his black Nikes, to even being reincarnated as a garbage can. As different as his subjects were, there was a clear and recurring theme: wanting to be loved and understood.

Sands had some advice for newer poets, like not being afraid of bad lines. “Being okay with that fact that that [a bad line] happens all the time has really allowed me to write poems that I wouldn’t have written,” he said. “Because I get to write half a page of really sappy, cliché stuff before I kinda catch what I’m really trying to say.”

He also had advice on performing poetry. “I think that what can be the hardest thing for people when they get up and read is they feel they are trying to communicate a couple different things,” he remarked. “I think that audiences don’t know that that’s confusing to them. I try very hard to take a deep breath wherever I am … I never try to do more than be myself.”

Listen to Jon Sands read some of his poetry:

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Photos by Sari Greifer

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