James Dickson teaches English and Creative Writing at Germantown High School, just outside of Jackson, MS. An MFA graduate from the Bennington Writing Seminars, he lives with his wife, Greer, and their son, James. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Stirrings, English Journal, Burnt Bridge, Bosphorus Art Project Quarterly, Ruminate, Hospital Drive, The Louisiana Review, Spillway, Amoskeag,and Slant.
Amoskeag: The 2012 issue has come to be known as the “Identity” issue; in what way does your work deal with “identity?”
James: In my work, I try to look at the nuances of what it means to exist. The tiny details, the reexamination of an idea or person–these fascinate me.
Amoskeag: In developing your main and supporting characters, how do you see them losing or finding themselves?
James: As a poet, I don’t give myself a lot of time (word-wise) to ease into characters. For me, the characters are mostly “found,” and the speaker is discovering them.
Amoskeag: What is the one line, the one sentence in your piece that for you sums up the meaning of “identity?”
James: “The dangerous/ wonder of his song.” That’s the first line I wrote for this poem, trying to capture the ferocity and curiosity of the scene.
Amoskeag: How do you identify yourself as a writer — how did you get here? Who/what made you so? Where have you come from? What have you gone through?
James: In addition to writing, I also teach high school English, am a husband to a wonderful wife, and a father to a fantastic three-year-old boy. All of these things inform the others. I was lucky enough to have fantastic teachers–high school, college, and grad school–who helped me find my voice and be unabashedly in love with words. Having the support of so many wonderful people (teachers, family, friends–especially the folks with whom I graduated from Bennington) has fueled me.
Amoskeag: What lies ahead for you?
James: More teaching, more writing, more dadding, more swinging on birches (metaphorically, of course. I’m a big guy, and we don’t have birches in Mississippi).
To view an excerpt of James’ poem “Concerto,” click here.