On her website, native New Yorker Jen Fitzgerald describes herself as a poet and essayist who “comes from a place that is lawless. Her family has been there for 200 years and refuses to integrate into normal society… Vivaldi gives her goosebumps as do some Jay-Z songs. She is proud to be a poet of witness and class activist.” Her first full collection The Art of Work is now out from Noemi Press. Here, we discuss the influences of her family, the rights of the worker and why she believes “[l]ife is the greatest art project.”
Rosebud Ben-Oni: In your long poem “Last Totem of Tradesmanship,” you explore the art of butchery as a trade “that propel[s] the human engine/ forward” and the rigorous labor involved with pulling a “knife body down/ the hung body,// ridging along ribs/ to remove flank steak.” You also explore the relationship between worker and customer whom “are no constant;/ a slideshow of flipped/ faces on repeat” as well as the economics of “salary cuts,/ store managers, about the bullshit //folks eat to stay fed.” You explore similar images in “The Killing Floor is Slick.” I can taste the blood in the collection as a whole— it pulses on the page, carrying “purple veins/scarlet muscle” and “the history of necessity;/ hunt, fire, communion.” Can you discuss the peculiar communion in more detail?