Jimmy Broccoli is a Library Branch Manager by day and a published poet by night with a mission to inspire his readers through imaginative poetic storytelling. His work has been featured in several publications and he released his first full-length book, “Damaged”, on Christmas Day 2021 and compiled the poetry anthology, “Spotlight”, released in March 2022. He enjoys walks on the beach and playing with puppies.
His poetry is raw and tells a story. When you read Broccoli’s poetry, you can feel the emotion of each poem as though you had written it yourself. His poems cut through you like the serrated edge of a knife and don’t hold anything back.
What does poetry mean to you?
I’m a narrative poet, so poetry – for me – is a way to tell stories. Sometimes I write autobiographical poems, sometimes I write fictional accounts – and, often, I write pieces that dwell somewhere in the middle of the two. Much of my writing deals with grief, raw emotions, loss, and death – so poetry, for me, is often a car crash – stories bleeding onto paper or across a computer screen, staining the carpet below. Poetry allows me to express what I would normally keep quiet or secret – it allows me to breathe life into the otherwise unanimated.
When did you begin writing poetry and what has your writing journey been like?
I began writing poetry at age 12 – but didn’t find my “poetic voice” until my early 20s. As an English major at University, I took an upper-level Modern Poetry class and fell in love with confessional poetry – Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Stevie Smith, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and others. My poetic style continues to be heavily influenced by the confessional poets of the mid-1900s.
Whose poetry would you say influences you most? In what ways has it influenced you?
In addition to the modern confessional poets, my poetry is heavily influenced by music – mostly alternative. The lyrics of Nine Inch Nails, Keaton Henson, Morrissey, and Sigur Ros have been more influential upon my writing than the work of other poets. All of these musical artists write highly emotional, powerful, and raw lyrics – exposing the often strange, dangerous, rebellious, extreme, and dark sides of life. It is within this world I usually write. I keep a flashlight handy.
What is your favorite thing about writing poetry?
Poetry, for me, is the escape hatch behind the bedroom closet that opens into a world similar to ours – but more magical and poetic. Writing as Jimmy, I get the opportunity to be someone else for short periods, while still clinging on to my regular identity and life. It’s often thrilling – and a lot of fun.
What is your least favorite thing about writing poetry?
As a side effect of writing raw, emotional verse, the process of writing a poem can take me out of living for several hours or an entire day. When I write very personal poems, usually filled with painful emotions, I become mentally crippled – it’s much like having a temporary mental meltdown – but knowing it will soon be okay. I go through this until my mind tells me, “Hey, it’s time to function again”. Then, I get up and continue with my day.
Describe your process.
I never block off or schedule time to write – ideas come to me and – if I like the ideas – I find the nearest pen and paper or computer and begin writing. For me, editing is a constant phase of the writing process – I edit while writing the initial draft and will revisit the piece to edit for the next day or two. I read every line dozens of times – and every time I make a change, I begin reading the poem from the beginning. On average, the initial draft of a poem takes me 2 – 4 hours to write – while the extra editing time can be fairly short (30 minutes) or take a few hours to complete.
As mentioned above, the writing process – for me – can be a painful one – but it is also therapeutic. Writing is a way for me to shed my demons and get out the emotions that have built up over the years. Writing is a release for me.
Who would you have over for lunch of your literary heroes/heroines and what would you serve? What food and what drinks? Why? What would you talk about over the meal?
Well – if musicians who write beautiful lyrics can be considered, I’d invite singer Jón Þór Birgisson (Jonsi), from Sigur Ros, over for lunch. No other writer, from my experience, reaches the epic emotional states Jonsi brings to music and verse.
Both Jonsi and I are vegan – Jonsi is a raw food vegan – so I’d prepare a large vegan platter that included fruits, vegetables, and nuts or bring a Raw Food Pistachio Zucchini Lasagna. A picnic in the park would be nice. I’d bring a sauvignon blanc (white wine) for me and bring whatever he prefers for him. I’m certain we’d talk about him throughout the meal. He’s a fascinating guy and I know I’d learn volumes from him. He is a hero of mine and spending any time with him would be a high honor.
How has poetry changed you?
Poetry has made me more community-minded. I love being a part of the worldwide poetry community and am a member of a good number of poetry groups online. These relationships – often leading to friendships – inspire my writing and are very enjoyable.
Where can readers find you?
His unshaven posture weakens
He wilts into my arms as if we’re dancing
A delicate dandelion stem exposed to hurricanes
A falling toaster into bathwater
He is crumpled paper and smeared ink
Downturned blue eyes
With confidence hung from rope
Swinging from unstable rafters
Looking down upon a chair with faded and expired paint
I build a fort
Marmalade bed sheets surround his symphony
In stillness, I pronounce him king
Fluffy life rafts in pillowcases
Mix-matched blankets and couch cushions
He sits in silence, thinking only in whispers
With evaporated tears, he falls asleep, handsome
I hold my breath, then exhale diamonds
My emotions spill upon the floor
As I listen to him breathing