How I Write: Poet and Performer Jordan Hamel

Poet and performer Jordan Hamel.

Ebony Lamb/Provided

Poet and performer Jordan Hamel.

Jordan Hamel is a Pōneke-based writer, poet and performer. He was the 2018 New Zealand Poetry Slam Champion and represented New Zealand at the World Poetry Slam Champs in the United States in 2019. He is co-editor of the Stasis Journal and co-editor of the poetry anthology on climate change. No other place to stand (Auckland University Press). Her debut collection Everyone Is Everyone But You was published by Dead Bird Books in 2021.

What book would you have liked to write and why?

It’s hard because what I love about great books is that they could only have been written by that person, it wouldn’t make sense for someone else to have written it . Like if I wrote Rangikura by Tayi Tibble, everyone would be confused and then I would be legitimately cancelled. So I guess I’ll say the Da Vinci Code. I could use those sweet Dan Brown royalties and meet Tom Hanks.

Which writer do you turn to when you have writer’s block?

I carry around with me the first collections of poetry by Hera Lindsay Bird and Freya Daly Sadgrove. These are iconic New Zealand books and everyone should read them. If I ever feel stuck, these are the perfect laxatives.

What book had such an impact on you that you bought it for your friends?

Have you seen book prices these days? My friends can buy theirs. In terms of books that I’m not going to keep quiet about to my friends, Rebecca K Reilly’s Greta and Valdin is at the top of this list right now, it’s just amazing. Plus, anything written by American poets Hanif Abdurraqib and Franny Choi, there’s something special about giving a friend a new favorite poet and receiving one in return.

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Which authors would you like in your book club?

One of my book clubs is full of poets so I don’t need them anymore, it’s hard to discuss a book when everyone is out looking at the moon. One time a well-known New Zealand essayist joined us and it was wonderful chaos, so maybe more essayists. I think Megan Dunn is hilarious and brilliant and I could listen to her talk about anything. Megan if you’re reading this, join our book club.

What book do you come back to over and over again to re-read?

So many collections of poetry: Hera Lindsay Bird, Head Girl by Freya, Conventional Weapons by Tracey Slaughter, He’s so MASC by Chris Tse, National Anthem by Mohamed Hassan, Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar, Platinum Blonde by Phoebe Stuckes, I could continue. I’ve never completely re-read a novel because I’m too lazy, but I think I’ll change that soon.

What book did you read as a child or teenager that made a deep impression on you?

I read a lot of fantasy, YA spy thrillers and All Blacks biographies as a kid, for better or worse they all influenced me and my writing. When I was 16 and unbearable, I read The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre and then I undertook to make it my whole identity for the following years.

Have you ever finished a book and gone straight to the beginning to read it again?

I do it all the time with poetry, I think it helps to have a sort of overview of a collection as a separate thing. In terms of fiction, Greta and Valdin is the only novel I remember doing this for because it’s so good, but I haven’t read it properly yet.

What is your writing routine?

I’m really bad at creating a routine for myself, always have been. I really don’t know how people wake up at the same time every day forever. But I’m getting better at carving out a designated space and time in my day to write and trying not to let the ongoing administration of life encroach on it.

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