JENA MALONE & ETHAN DELORENZO
How do you spend your days?
JM: Caring for our child really. Tending the house, making sure our emotional needs and creative needs get met and not totally pushed to the wayside, but mostly just caring for Ode.
ED: Yeah, it’s mainly us building a home and a family. That's where our main energy goes. But within that, we’re finding little alleyways of time to go down our rabbit holes of the creative ideas in our minds and getting them out. Coming up here and being in isolation and spending so much time with our family has really helped me.
What does poetry mean to you?
JM: For me it’s a distillation of the world. It's a processing mechanism...it's when I feel overwhelmed or when there's a surplus or when there's a lack. I feel like it allows me to distill the natural or emotional or subconscious kind of matter that's affecting me.
ED: Yeah I would say for me, it's field notes. A mixture of things that are happening..how I'm internalizing the things that are happening in the world.
JM: But other people's poetry is like wine..it's to be sipped and shared. And spread around the table. But my own writing...is much more like the wine making..it's not as pleasurable sometimes, you know..it can be like “ oh what ingredient..what color..what smell?" Like searching for that invisible, that intangible thing.
-- farmers market break --
-- back home --
How do you feel about sharing your work?
ED: That's a good question. For me, sharing is kind of here nor there. It kind of comes out either way. It just feels appropriate at this point, to share it. It's like an experiment, to see what happens by sharing. Regardless, it's coming out...it's in my mind.
JM: I think all work is made to be shared...but it doesn't have to have a timeframe or be linear. Because real work, real creative work, doesn't have a shelf life. What I learned, even working with film, is that I'm not doing it for myself. We're not making it for ourselves, we're making it to share with the world. And I feel like poetry is all meant to be shared, but not necessarily immediately. I feel there's an incessant urge from society to share things right away, and I feel like that's unnatural. I think that some things are meant to sit in a drawer and be discovered by my great grandchildren. I don't think everything has to be shared in your lifetime.
Do you feel it's important for people to come together over poetry? Especially in these times...I read an article that poetry is on the rise again because of what's going on politically, economically, everything.
JM: Well, I wish I was engaged in more gatherings of poetry. I've really only ever been to one poetry reading ever. And it was in Lake Tahoe, at a small used bookstore. I went with my sister and we were both excited and giddy. We were excited to share our poems with the world, and even in that small scale, it felt political...it felt dangerous. I do think it's important for people to come together over poetry. Poetry is meant to be read out loud to people. There are a lot of things that are meant to be in public, but aren't. We're supposed to celebrate with strangers, and we're supposed to cook and eat with our friends. There are so many things that deserve an audience. Even if it's a small scale one.
ED: Yeah, poetry really does feel radical. Even if it's just someone reading poetry in a park. That seems so out of context from reality but it's so necessary and it should be something that happens all the time. Like how we hear music on the radio, we should be hearing poetry.
What's the first form of poetry you fell in love with?
JM: For me it was song lyrics..PJ Harvey, Ani DiFranco, Tom Waits, Nina Simone, Neil Young. It was the lyrics, learning them, being obsessed with them. How they felt in my mouth. I remember when I was 12, there was a Liz Phair album, and one of the first songs (sings "Big Tall Man")... I don't know why, I just really loved those words...I just kept saying the words.
ED: In retrospect, I first started seeing photographs as poems from a very young age. More literally, it was Tupac's lyrics. I was so fascinated with him; how he was a gangster who also wrote poetry, took ballet, and was part of this political movement. I learned everything about him. He helped me be more confident to embrace my feminine side. Tupac was the first.
Where do poems come from?
JM: It can come from any source really, it’s such an alone art. That's what I'm realizing as a mom. I'm writing less and less because I have less alone time. As soon as the boys leave, I feel like my mind picks up every mental pen that I drop. It's so interesting how poetry can be so transient. When I was younger, it was as soon as I got on an airplane or in an airport or a bus, that's when my finger would start itching for my pen. It's a very creative alone time, but you’re in public, you’re seeing and being seen. That feeling of travel, of "I have everything I need right now"...it's all the in between times. That feeling outside of time, it doesn't count in your life. So it's easier to introvert.
How do poems and words connect us as human beings?
JM: Well I don't know, I just have to go back to the distillation theory. Basically, you can take the entirety of the redwood forest and put it on a piece of paper and fold that piece of paper up and put it in someone’s pocket...and in that way, it can connect you to anything. It's made from nothing, it is nothing, it exists inside, we’re just trying to bring it out. It contains the universe inside of it, it IS connection. I think more so than music, music can be an abstraction, and film is more specific...poetry is that universal EVERYTHING.
ED: I love when films or music can capture both...
JM: That's why it's so exciting when someone says “That's poetic.”
ED: I think going forth in our modern age... poetry is more digestible, it's aging well...it's becoming more topical vs other mediums of expressing. Because they’re kind of like snapshots, they can be short.
What do you love about being alive?
ED: That’ll be a poem someday. The moment we had last night; where nothing was planned and it just happened. All those things you allow yourself to surrender to. And the most beautiful and devastating thing for us, however you look at it, is how everything is so temporary...
JM: If I think, "Well, everything is alive, so what's so great about being human?" It's that ability to recognize the synchronicity of the sacred.
What would you like to see more of in this world?
JM: More cradle to cradle thinking. I think we live in such a cradle to grave society, where things have a birth and a death..where we just throw things away- things like ideas, love, human interactions, and the things we buy.
ED: In the same vein as that cradle to cradle idea, is the respecting of elders. Even if it's just listening to their stories and memories. Learning where they went wrong, where they went right, and what actually matters when you’re close to the end of it...there's so much to learn from them.
Who would you like to see featured on We The Tender Hearted?
ED: Vilde Bjerke, my writer friend from Norway.
JM: Mary Oliver or my little sister, Madison.
photographs by Naomi Shon