I was born and raised in coastal California, and I’m a fourth-generation native. Over the years, I moved to Arizona twice. The second time, my husband and I moved to the mountains in the north-central highlands, to a rural Arizona county where it snows in the winter. My birth place and my current home are both semi-arid, desert environments, and they inspired one of my favorite free-verse poems: High Desert Lullaby.
What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
I love the outdoor recreation in the many national forests, monuments, and parks around us.
What turns you on creatively?
My inner muse. I cannot not write. I’m influenced by a wide variety of writing prompts. I tell my readers that my writer’s mind is like a browser with over a dozen tabs open. First, photos and images that I find online prompt me through their visual cues.Guitar Man is one example of a photo that inspired the words in that verse. I love the passion in the musician’s face.Home on the Rangeis another. The cow’s expression awoke a goofy story in me.
Second, people around me provide a wealth of ideas. The people in any public area, their mannerisms and their conversations, inspire new stories. That’s true of The Spirit Is Gone, a verse that expresses my sadness to see how “stay-at-home” guidelines affected a once-bustling tourist destination.
I also borrow aspects from the lives of family, friends, and acquaintances. Breakfast at Iggy’s and Ana’s Café combines elements of a family I know with the career of an acquaintance. It’s also one of my favorite flash fiction stories, and is a chapter in my novel WIP.
What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
Haiku, because the first syllable in English is a friendly greeting (“Hi!”), and the second syllable reminds me of an infant’s coos, when a baby is content. I enjoy writing haiku and tanka verses. Lagniappemy favorite haiku.
Here’s the word haiku in a haiku verse:
Fresh, falling snowflakes, sing for me a spring haiku to warm my cold heart.
What is your pet peeve?
People who interrupt when another is speaking and then take over the conversation without letting the speaker finish.
What defines Jenise Cook?
I’d rather restate the question. What’s important to Jenise Cook? Many things, but here’s a start.
My faith, my marriage, my closest friends. And then my love for people, nature, books, life-long learning, music, photography, fine art, great food, and road trips. We’re looking forward to exploring the nooks and crannies of the Four Corners states in the Southwest (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), that is, the areas that are off the main tourist paths. My adventures always plant seeds for future stories and verses.
I’ve learned to keep wise cheerleaders around me, people who will speak the truth in love, and who will support my creative efforts. The team at Spillwords Press encourages me more than my words can ever say. Thank you!
Jenise Cook lives in northern Arizona, where it snows, with her fine artist husband. Jenise writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her works have been published in various journals. For a complete list of her works, visit her site: Jenise Cook.