Today, Anobium takes time to ask a few questions of Jonathan Greenhause, author of our first chapbook release, Sebastian’s Relativity.
We met Jonathan in cyberspace. Communicated by equal parts Morse and telepathy (it really does work).
Q: Place of birth, place of residence, occupation, weight on Mars.
A: I was born in Summit, New Jersey, but spent my whole childhood in Westfield, followed by 4 years at Oberlin College, 4 years in Argentina, & the last 10 years in Jersey City, where I reside with my incredible wife. I’ve got a job (as a Spanish interpreter) that I absolutely love & which allows me to work on my poetry when I’m at home.
If I’m lucky enough to make it to Mars, I’d weigh only 27 lbs.
Q: Describe your patronymic.
A: My legal surname’s Friedman, but there are a lot of us Friedmans, & there are quite a few Jonathan Friedman poets out there. Early on, I decided it would be best for all of us if I shed my patronymic & took on my matronymic. That’s how Greenhause materialized. It’s got a nice ring to it: It’s evocative; It paints a picture in your mind (of a green house, probably); & it’s a constant reminder of my maternal grandfather, who was one of my best friends.
Q: How many years have you been writing creatively/seriously? When did you realize it was something you enjoyed doing?
A: When I was in 4th grade, I read my stories to the class every Friday, & I remember how fascinated the other kids looked. Incidentally, I had no clue about copyright laws, most of my stories centering around characters like the Flintstones, Garfield, Charlie Brown, & Dangermouse. I also included myself as one of the main characters, & it all took place back in “The Time of Dinosaurs”, which was the title of my primary-school saga.
I subsequently went through periods where I wanted to be a journalist, a novelist, or a short-story writer, but I wound up gravitating towards poetry.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors? Filmmakers? Creative types?
A: Albert Camus, Wisława Szymborska, Ayi Kwei Armah, Toni Morrison, Elizabeth Bishop, Walt Whitman, Herman Hesse, Julio Cortázar, Derek Walcott, & Gabriel García Márquez.
I love the films of Ingmar Bergman, the Coen brothers, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Terry Gilliam & Woody Allen.
As for other creative types, the list is boundless & would include visual artists, musicians, scientists, architects, & comedians.
Q: Tell us about Sebastian’s Relativity. What is it about? What sort of person would Sebastian be if you were to bump into him in person?
A: Sebastian’s Relativity is an alternate universe where our standard physics & typical relationships no longer apply. The idea came out of nowhere while writing a poem which would become “When Sebastian Met His Fathers”. I’d written series of poems before, but never centering on one specific character like these did. I felt compelled to write more & more about Sebastian, & then about his Siamese sisters, his ten fathers, his dancing cockroaches, his girlfriend Samantha, his girlfriend Angelique, his plastic dog Fido, & his need to write poetry & share it with the world. 58 of the next 71 poems I wrote revolved around his bizarre existence.
If I were to meet him, I’d probably see a lot of similarities between Sebastian & I, specifically our inherently existential philosophy, though the actual details of our lives are quite different.
Q: What’s your fifty-year plan?
A: You know: Become Poet Laureate, win the Nobel Prize, travel to the moon, & star in an Academy-Award®-winning film. But I’d be more than happy with just trying my best at being my definition of a good person, a good son, a good brother, a good husband, & a good friend.
Q: How can people get in touch with you?
A: My e-mail’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Just write, & I’ll be glad to write you back. You can also try mental telepathy: Let me know if that works.