Friday, November 23, 2012

Meet Jamie Doughty, Poet and Artist

Jamie Doughty is a poet, cartoonist and game designer based in Bristol, England. Over the last two years he has self-published four books and has performed to audiences in a number of towns and cities in England and Wales. His latest release, Memory Card, is the first of Jamie's projects to present new poems and artwork as a printed book and a web-based game.

1. How has self-publishing been a good avenue for you to share your work as a poet?

Choosing to self-publish in order to get my work to a wider audience really has been one of the best decisions I have made. With so many books being self-published every day and having only used free services and social media to advertise, it's not as easy to make an impact as some would have you believe, but I try to balance the big ideas with a sense of what is realistically possible and build on that. Having the freedom to publish what you want when you want is brilliant for me as I have a lot of ideas that I want to explore, and the more titles I get finished and out there the better. Otherwise they are just ideas and scribblings lying in a notebook or on a hard drive.

2. What are the differences you find in connecting with readers online and connecting with readers through the public readings you give?

I love reading to a live audience. The honest and mixed reactions on people's faces as you read something that you believe is worth hearing can be satisfying or disappointing (sometimes both at the same time). At open mic nights you also get that option to listen and talk to other performers and members of the audience straight away which is nice. Online interaction and feedback is just as valuable to me, and it's great reading responses from new readers or friends and relatives that due to the logistics of everyday life you don't often get the chance to meet in person.

3. What makes your latest book (and game!), Memory Card, a unique project for you?

For starters, it's the first poetry and picture book I have produced that has an accompanying short video game and vice versa. It's also the first collection of poems that I have presented that all have one common theme (playing video games). I looked at my first two books Leaving Present and What an Absolute Load of Not My Cup of Splosh and realized that there were a number of references to video games in both of them. Some were obvious and others more cryptic. Then I decided to write a collection of poems all about playing video games. I wrote a list of all the computers and consoles I had used over the years and wrote something for each of them. At that point I was also making a short flash game that would be accompanied by a picture book about two characters wandering around and just going about their business. I then fused the poems and the book/game together which is not something I have done before but it seemed to make sense to me. I just hope it does to some people who play the game, read the book, or hear the poems.

4. Did you have experience with making online games before Memory Card, or did you need to learn the process specifically to achieve your vision for the project?

I have played around with Flash since 2000, but most of the early stuff I did was promotional material for friends in bands or short cartoons that were not interactive. Immediately before making Memory Card I made a collection of 7 mini games based on poems from my first two books called Mundane Mini Games. The point of that project was to document how things developed as I was making these little games and learn a thing or two so that I could go on to make what became Memory Card. In 2012, it's a lot easier to make flash games thanks to programs like Stencyl which is fantastic because it has meant that I could focus on the visual/audio content in the project and not have to worry about the programming side becoming too daunting.

5. How does your work as a visual artist inform your work as a poet, and vice versa?

Many of the poems I write are scruffy, short, and often focused on the mundane. The visual art or should I say cartoons and games I produce are also simple and scruffy. There is also a nonsensical element to both aspects of my artistic practice. Writing poems really can be like painting a picture with words, and when I occasionally paint a picture, I often can't help painting a word somewhere.

Thanks, Jamie!

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