Puffterview with February Boulder Poetry Tribe Calendar Contest Finalist Janelle Fine!

This February we held a contest over who could go to the most events on the Boulder Poetry Tribe Calendar that month, with the winner receiving a puff piece on the website.  There was stiff competition between several of the poetry scene’s die hards, but in the end two competitors rose to the top.  The winner with 15 events was Shayna Lynn (who declined the prize on the grounds of maintaining her mystique) and second place was Janelle Fine with 13.  We interviewed Janelle over email recently and here’s what they said… 

Who are you?

I am a queer artist/writer/performance artist. My pronouns are they. I love bow ties and matchboxes. Tarts are aesthetically pleasing and so is the color grey. I live with my leopard gecko named Max. Dill pickles make the best snack. If I could clone myself I would so that I could go to twice as many events. I could work on my novel while working on my photography while being at a poetry event….if someone has the technology to do that…let me know lol….that’d be great!

Why did you go to so many Boulder Poetry Tribe Calendar events in the month of February?

I think I’m secretly a competitive person but I was never able to act on that as a child because I didn’t play sports. You issued this challenge, well…. I took it as a challenge and I don’t like to lose. I think I have FOMO…a fear of missing out. Sometimes trying to juggle going to events while trying to work on my own projects after work is hard. I don’t have a car and there isn’t enough hours in the day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am determined to get as much out of my 20’s as possible. I need to be inspired by other poets and writers to push my own creativity to its full potential.

What is the key to being a great Boulder Poetry event goer-toer?

The key to being a great event goer is to be present. Don’t go and then sit on your phone. If there is an open mic and you are going to read, it’s ok to be nervous but practice your piece ahead of time… try not to be one of those people who spends the the entire open mic rereading your own work and then you are not actually listening to anyone else.  If you expect people to listen to your work, that same respect should be reciprocated. Don’t read first and then leave. I also spent a lot of events this month not reading because I wanted to spend the space just enjoying other poets in the community. You don’t have to always read. Sometimes you will get more out of listening.

Why do you think there are so many events on the Boulder Poetry Tribe Calendar to begin with?

Because this poetry community is awesome.


Before you got to Boulder did you dream of a Poetry Scene in which there were so many events to go?

When I was in college as a freshman I went to my first open mic. It was at a local coffee shop and the only people there were all old, already knew each other and only read poems on death, cats and grandchildren. I never went back. I’ve been writing poetry since the third grade but moving to Boulder was the first time poetry really consumed me and became my life which has been a magical and beautiful thing. I never thought I would be going to poetry events on the weekend but poetry/art events seem to make up 98.5% of my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you feel superior to other Boulder Poets because you were able to go to more events? 

I do get asked a lot how I go to so many events? One of my biggest pet peeves that makes me the most annoyed is when people tell me how amazing it is that I go to so many events because they want to go to all these events too, but then they are too tired. I think if you really want to go to an event you would just go. It’s not hard. Maybe this sounds harsh but in my opinion excuses are excuses. If you don’t really want to go to an event don’t go. It’s not complicated. I work 9-5 at an office Mon-Friday and I still make an effort on evenings and weekends but also, only go to events for you. I went to all these events in February for me, to energize my brain.

Do you ever have times when you don’t feel much like going to Boulder Poetry events?

Yes, of course. Sometimes after work I am so tired all I want to do is crawl into bed. I also deal with depression and there are weeks where if I’m being real, I don’t want to get out of bed or can’t and I will go home from work and crawl into bed. Even though this month was a competition it’s not really a competition. I know this amazing community will be here waiting for me if I need to step out… I will always come back. Sometimes I go months without reading at events because it’s easier for me to just sit in the back and listen. That’s ok too.

What Poetry related projects do you have going on for yourself these days?

I am working on a larger project that’s been all consuming. My character’s name is Open Circle. Hopefully I’m getting closer to it being a book… that’s the dream. I just finished drawing my coffee table. 1 drawing every 30 minutes for 25 hours.

Ask yourself any question and then answer it.

What is your biggest fear?

My biggest fear is dying before having read everything I’ve ever wanted to read.