Interview: Poet and writer Jacob Mager on humour and reasons to write poetry

People become writers for lots of different reasons. Some people see it as free therapy and others want to become gods, create whole new worlds and let readers be part of that.

Poet and writer Jacob Mager, 23, creative writing and publishing MA student at Kingston University London, on the other hand, had a different but definitely relatable reason to become a poet.

“I figured that it would be a good way to impress girls. That was a long time ago, though! It was in secondary school, I was fifteen or sixteen, when I started. It’s a shallow reason to start but I gained what I like to call a greater appreciation for the art as I’ve grown older,” said Mager.

Mager published some of his more recent work in a student anthology called Streams of Consciousness, created by students from Kingston University. The group tried to recreate different sentiments of the student life at KU.

Be prepared to hurt a lot.

-Jacob Mager, on writing.

Aside from poetry, the student from Barbados has written mainly prose, but he has not published any of his works yet.

Unlike other writers who draw inspiration from their own experiences and feelings, Mager actually draws a lot of ideas from the people around him.

“It’s generally other people’s experiences, actually, I don’t really draw from myself all that much, I find myself quite boring. I like talking to other people and then inserting them as characters or parts of my characters in the prose and see how they all intermingle with each other,” said Mager.

In terms of writing frequently, as many writers recommend, Mager struggles with it. The writer’s block is more of a constant status of his, something many writers experience.

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

-George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm.

For his dissertation in creative writing he will have to force himself to write ideally every day, but he actually has a habit of not bringing himself to write – “a bad habit”, as he said.

“I think all writers should force themselves. As my tutor says, we have a lot of bad words to get through until the good ones start coming up,” he said. “I tend to write off the adrenaline of the deadline. I function very well with deadlines. I love them. They give me a goal to focus on rather than just writing into the void.”

Humour is something that Mager tries to incorporate into his writing. One of his childhood favourites was Artemis Fowl, written by Eoin Colfer.

I prefer scared to dead. If possible.

-Artemis Fowl (2001).

The wittiness of his work was something that inspired Mager to include in his own stories. However, writing humour is difficult.

“I like making people laugh. I try to go back to comedy in my writing. I like laughter; I’m trying up different genres, but often with the same humorous tone, if I can inject that,” said Mager. “It’s the one thing that I’m happy about is that I can or previously been able to make people laugh. Just continuing to do it is the scary part, it is really hard.”

In many cases, writing fills the author with a sense of relief and achievement – afterwards, not necessarily during the act. Mager agrees with the fact that writing can be fun, but also a major struggle to come up against.

But he advises aspiring writers and poets to keep doing it.

“Be prepared to hurt a lot. It’s worth it, it really is worth it. And do the thing that I’m really trying to do, force yourself to write, whether it’s a set time during the day that you write or a word count. That’s really the only way to get stuff done I think.”

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