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Artists in their own words: Jerika Marchan

Jeri

Who: Jerika Marchan

What: Poet

Where: Uptown

Artist’s chosen location for interview: On her balcony with a bottle of chilled Rose and a scented candle we admired but never discussed

 

Q: How do you feel about tangible collections?

A: Awesome. I love them. I like that people have them.

Do you remember that show on Nick Jr. called Gullah Gullah Island with Binyah Binyah Pollywog

[Laughing]. I can’t believe you just pulled out that reference.

Don’t laugh. It’s connected. There’s this one episode with James where they sing a song that goes [singing] ‘My name is James and I’m a collector. Gonna be a collector everyday of my life.’

That’s on the tip of my brain anytime someone talks about collections. But, in regard to my own collections, I collected stickers when I was younger. I still have this red, three-prong folder with my name on it in glitter glue at my parent’s house, and it’s full of every kind of sticker. I would take the stickers that came in the mail from the March of Dimes with my parents’ address on them or stickers from those Highlights books, and I would put them in my binder. I had Lisa Frank stickers, and I never peeled off any of these stickers. They were too precious for me.

I would hole-punch computer paper, tape the stickers to the paper, and then I would put them in my binder. Now it has been around 20 years, so the integrity of the stickers’ adhesive is just not there anymore. Lisa Frank’s bunnies are no longer sticky. Now, after bringing some of these stickers to New Orleans, I’ll send them on letters to friends.

And my mom collected state spoons. She has a rack at the house, and when she filled up the rack she stopped collecting. My mom came here in 1992. She was a Filipina village girl living in the States, so the spoons were a way to memorialize the fact that she’d traveled and gone through these places. When we went on road trips she’d want us to stop at the Arkansas gas station so she could get a spoon.

I love that. Although, I try not to collect anymore, but I do hoard lipsticks.

Q: How do you know when you’ve connected with someone?

A: The answer that pops up in my head isn’t necessarily the answer to that question, but I’m typically aware that I’ve connected with somebody when I can acknowledge that my first impression of them was and is wrong.

My first impressions are typically really bad. I’m not super judgmental necessarily, but I think it’s instinctual that when I meet somebody I do a full diagnostic report. It’s not even a reflection on them. It’s sometimes more of a game with myself, such as ‘How right can I be about this person?’ And I’m usually wrong.

Although, my first and pre-impression of my partner, David, line-up so well with who he is, even five years later. The first time I heard his name was because my friends were complaining about him not hiring them at the radio station, and then when I met him at a party--before I knew it was him--I thought, ‘That’s got to be him.’ I don’t think that has to do with me, though. That has to do with David--what you see is what you get; although, I think he hates that description.

Maybe he has a secret mystery side, which is great because everyone should have a secret mystery side. Although, I will dig away at that and destroy it. [Laughing].

Q: What is a word that you would like to write the etymology for and what would the etymology be?

A: Now that I’m looking at the clouds, I want to say nebulous. But I like nebulous and tenuous, so let’s say tenuous instead. In my brain the words nebulous and tenuous are married.

I love to imagine that all of the words in our vocabulary come from sensations in our body or from the natural world. That’s like the language my parents speak at home. The Filipino language is really onomatopoetic, and we have words that sound like the object.

So, I would say that tenuous could be connected to tendons since it’s something that is delicate yet strong in a way, and they hold the meat of you together. Words like tender and tenure and ten could all be related to tenuous as well. When we look at our fingers and our hands, we have ten digits, and ten is the symmetry we strive to find comfort and meaning in. Maybe the in-between of tenuous has something to do with that striving.

Q: Who would you like to put in conversation with time?

A: I keep going back to this celestial idea, like a black hole or our sun. Those celestial bodies are similar to us but on a larger scale. Wow, this is a really hard question. Why did you have to pick time? Why couldn’t it be a conversation with a jacuzzi?

I’m going to go with celestial items. White dwarfs could talk to time and ask it, ‘Why did you make me like this? Why didn’t I supernova the way that guy did?’

Then time could be like, ‘Well, you just weren’t big enough. It’s not my problem.’

I guess time would have some tough love, and I imagine that our sun would ask time, ‘Are you really going to make me personally responsible for the entire extinction of this sentient race? They’re so cute, and they make little robots that circle me, so why do you have to make me get rid of them?’

Although, we could possibly get killed by something else--an asteroid, you know--at anytime. That’s what fish must feel like all the time.

Q: If you could resurrect someone, when would be the best time to do it?

A: When you are adequately equipped to provide for that person. If Abraham Lincoln is being resurrected then you need to get him a good chair and a hat. You need to have a well-stocked fridge. You can’t just raise someone from the dead and expect them to fend for themselves. There’s no way you can bring someone back and say, ‘Do shit for me,’ without giving them food. ‘Here’s a f*&%ing corn dog, Abe Lincoln. Now, on our way.’

It’s what my mother taught me; it’s only polite.

Although, in regard to timing, I think that if a concept or theory comes back en vogue then a representative person of that concept should be resurrected. I’m thinking specifically about Bill O’Reily’s thing about how the slaves that built the White House were well-fed and provided for. As he’s going on and on about how the slaves loved doing this, that’s when someone who was building the White House could be resurrected and say, ‘Actually, that’s not entirely true.’

I was just reading about how Abigail Adams in her writings refutes what Bill O’Reily said. She wrote something along the lines of, ‘In fact, it is the republicanism that drives our owners to push their slaves to work half-fed while they (the owners) sit by and watch.’ That’s a complete misquote, but in her journals she’s talking about how they’re forcing people to finish this building and not feeding them.

So when some dick bag or some dick bag concept comes back en vogue, then it’s time to resurrect someone from that time and set some things straight. That way they can look at them and say, ‘No. No. No, people. Fix what you say.’

I imagine that in 100 years someone will be teaching a class about Bounce, and they can resurrect Big Freedia right then and there to clear up a few things.
Some of Jerika Marchan's work can be found at smoking glue gun, agape volume 1, and the Bat City Review. You can hear selections from her forthcoming project on WRBH 88.3 FM.  Her debut book SWOLE, a book-length poem, is forthcoming from Futurepoem Books in Spring 2017. She is at work on her next full-length manuscripts Dead or Exploding and SUBLIMINAL CACA.