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How I write: Poet and performer Jordan Hamel

Poet and performer Jordan Hamel.

Ebony Lamb/Supplied

Poet and performer Jordan Hamel.

Jordan Hamel is a P┼Źneke-based writer, poet and performer. He was the 2018 New Zealand Poetry Slam champion and represented NZ at the World Poetry Slam Champs in the USA in 2019. He is the co-editor of Stasis Journal and co-editor of the climate change poetry anthology No Other Place to Stand (Auckland University Press). His debut collection Everyone is everyone except you was published by Dead Bird Books in 2021.

Which book do you wish you’d written and why?

It’s hard because the thing I love about great books is that they could only have been written by that person, it wouldn’t make sense for anyone else to have written it. Like if I wrote Rangikura by Tayi Tibble, everyone would be confused and then I’d rightfully get cancelled. So I guess I’ll say The Da Vinci Code. I could use those sweet Dan Brown royalties plus I’d get to meet Tom Hanks.

Which writer do you turn to when you have writer’s block?

I carry Hera Lindsay Bird and Freya Daly Sadgrove’s debut poetry collections with me pretty much everywhere I go. They’re iconic NZ books and everyone should read them. If I’m ever feeling blocked up, they are the perfect laxatives.

Which book had such an impact on you that you bought it for your friends?

Have you seen the prices of books these days? My friends can buy their own. In terms of books I won’t shut up about my friends, Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly is top of that list right now, it’s nothing short of incredible. Also, anything by American poets Hanif Abdurraqib and Franny Choi, there’s something special about gifting a friend to a new favorite poet and receiving one in return.

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Which authors would you want in your book club?

One of my book clubs is full of poets so I don’t need any more of them, it’s hard to discuss a book when everyone is outside staring at the moon. We had a well-known NZ essayist join us once and it was wonderful chaos, so maybe more essayists. I think Megan Dunn is hilarious and brilliant and I could listen to her talk about anything. Megan if you’re reading this, join our book club.

What book do you go back to time and time again to re-read?

So many poetry collections: Hera Lindsay Bird, Head Girl by Freya, Conventional Weapons by Tracey Slaughter, He’s so MASC by Chris Tse, National Anthem by Mohamed Hassan, Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar, Platinum Blonde by Phoebe Stuckes, I could go on. I’ve never completely reread a novel because I’m too lazy, but I think I’m going to change that soon.

What book did you read as a child or teen that had a profound effect on you?

I read a lot of fantasy, YA spy thrillers and All Blacks’ biographies when I was a kid, for better or worse they’ve all influenced me and my writing. When I was 16 and insufferable, I read The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre then proceeded to make that my entire identity for the next few years.

Have you ever finished a book and gone straight back to the start to read again?

I do this with poetry all the time, I think it helps get a sort of bird’s eye view of a collection as its own distinct thing. In terms of fiction, Greta and Valdin is the only novel I can remember doing this for because its so good, but I haven’t reread it properly yet.

What’s your writing routine?

I’m really bad at creating routine for myself, always have been. I truly don’t know how people wake up at the same time every day forever. But I’m getting better at carving out designated space and time in my day to write and trying not to let the ongoing admin of life impinge on it.

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