Daniel Shea: So you are an Arizona transplant… what is the poet’s response to the climatic change from Arizona to New England?
John-Francis Quinonez: A huge driving force behind this move was the pursuit of community. I had made a lot of friends in the area over the years and was particularly drawn to be around so many spirits I deeply admired and also loved. The Northeast is particularly rich with artists turning out really beautiful and important work. It is still wild to feel among them, and is truly an honor to at least be adjacent to that community.
As far as how that environmental change has affected my own work – I am not entirely sure. I am often chasing after a sense or definition of Home in my art – finding all the ways in which that Manifests in my Heart, Longing, or Simply a thing I have learned to Build and Carry with me.
DS: As a barista how does coffee and/ or your dealings with customers inform your poetry?
J-FQ:I am actually no longer in the field! I stopped working in the service industry in April and am working for myself full time as of the last month. Presently I provide services as @yourqueermawm – working in Accessible Home Aide and Executive Functioning practices for folks needing an extra hand claiming a sense of Peace or reclaiming their space.
I do, however, find that creating any art is a means of play and escape. I am certainly always processing the things I receive in social and working spaces as they are oftentimes a playground for certain power dynamics, and moments of self reflection to emerge. I’ve definitely written somethings coming from a place in the service industry, but mostly as a platform I am actively leaving rather than a destination.
DS: I can’t wait to catch you live on friday, having never done so, but I have seen videos and you seem like a live wire. Do you enjoy performing? Or are you more in it for the words?
J-FQ:I really love performing. Part of the fun of writing comes from a sense of collaging to me. A writer makes so many choices to place and emphasize things exactly as they do and I think performing is the ability to share that intent, or maybe even the emotion behind it, with an audience; to be able to do a bit of a magic trick and then get the gratification of being able to say “wow wasnt that W I L D” too.
That act of sharing is so important to my spirit – wether I am reading through a poem or purely speaking to a crowd I love being able to collectively acknowledge and celebrate that we made it so far as to be able to all be there in the same room. Choosing to engage, and particularly engage with art, is such a brave thing to do. If I can have any hand in rewarding people for that it’d bring me all the joy in the world.
DS: Pride is here. Queerness is @ hand. We’re here celebrating queer artists @ this event on friday even. What does queerness even mean for you in 2019?
J-FQ: Queerness is standing in the truth that I was born and will put my whole heart into being Loudly and Defiantly Alive until I am not anymore.
DS: What is on the horizon for John F. Quinonez?
J-FQ:I don’t know but I really hope it’s a tasteful mesh top and a fucking doughnut.