An interview with New Poets in Pajamas Curator, Jacquelyn Scott

Sundress editorial intern Sabrina Sarro asked new Poets in Pajamas (PiP) curator, Jacquelyn Scott, to discuss her thoughts on the new role she’s taking over from Sundress Staff Director, Anna Black. Topics ranged from how Scott’s personal identities will inform her to work to how her journey has brought her to Sundress via this position.

SS: What brings you to Poets in Pajamas?

JS: I love the accessibility of PiP. In-person readings are great, but there’s a location aspect to them. You have to be available at that certain time and present in that certain space. This is challenging for people who want to go, but who live in a different state or have to work or have a disability that precludes them from attending. I love that PiP fills in this gap and gives people the opportunity to attend readings from the comfort of their home, whenever it is convenient for them.

SS: What do you think PiP’s role in the community is?

JS: I think our role is to fill in that accessibility gap and to set up a platform for the poets to garner a bigger audience. The poets that read for us are so amazing, and for their work to be able to reach people on the other side of the world is just incredible. We’ve only had two readings this year so far, and already there are readers who have been introduced to new poets and work. They send us emails and Facebook messages asking us where they can get more of that person’s work, and that, to me, is fulfilling our role in this community.

SS: How did you become PiP’s new curator?

JS: I came to PiP through my editorial internship with Sundress Publications. As an intern, I was lucky enough to be able to help Anna Black, the Staff Director and (phenomenal) former curator, with reader submissions and see the selection process for the line-up, and through my time there, I learned the ins and outs of the PiP program. At the end of my internship, Anna asked if I would like to take over, and I, of course, said absolutely.

SS: What is something unique you are going to bring to this position?

JS: I don’t come from a poetry background. Before Sundress, I was pretty entrenched in nonfiction and fiction work, so I think I bring a fresh ear to this position.

SS:  What challenges do you anticipate about this new position?

JS: It may not seem like it when people attend readings, but there is a ton of behind the scenes work to put on a live event. I guess a challenge for me will be keeping up with everything, but Anna did a great job explaining things. I also have checklists and spreadsheets to work with, so I feel prepared.

SS: What are some things you are most looking forward to about this position?

JS: The readings! I love watching the poets read their work and listening to them answer smart questions from their audience. I look forward to our readings every other Sunday. 

SS: How do some of your own personal identities inform how you will approach this position?

JS: I’m a pretty big ecofeminist, so I imagine I’ll be keeping my ear out for this kind of work. That’s not to say that it is the only kind of work I get excited about because it certainly isn’t. That’s just to say that ecofeminism work is what hypes me up when I come across it. I also try to be conscientious, though I suppose that’s more personality than positionality. I did read somewhere that personality is a new positionality, whether you believe that or not, I don’t know. But for this position, I think my conscientiousness plays a big factor in seeking out diverse voices. I’m not interested in the same old, same old. I’m interested in those stories that have been silenced or pushed in the background.

SS: What qualities do you think a new PiP creator should possess?

JS: Organization and a willingness to serve. As I said earlier, there’s a ton of behind the scenes work, so organization is huge.

SS: What do you love most about this role? 

JS: Beyond the readings, I really love communicating with the authors. They’re so smart, and I’ve already met so many amazing people because of this position. I look forward to meeting many, many more.

Find out more about Poets in Pajamas and their 2020 line-up here!

Jacquelyn Scott is the curator of Poets in Pajamas. She is an MFA candidate at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in december magBlue Mountain ReviewThe Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and The Write Launch. Find her on a hiking trail or on Twitter @jacquelynlscott.

Sabrina Sarro is a current social worker in the state of NY. They hold an LMSW from Columbia University and are currently pursuing an MFA from the City College of New York—CUNY. As a queer non-binary writer of color, they are most interested in investigating the intersectionalities of life and engaging in self-reflection and introspection. They are an alumnus of the LAMBDA Literary Emerging Voices for LGBTQIA* Writers Retreat, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Yale Writers’ Workshop, and many others. They have received scholarships from The Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley.


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