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Jessy Randall's things to chew on

She enjoys poetry, presses and publishing in gumball machines (or syndicated columns)


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All dolled up: Jessy Randalls most recent book of poetry.
  • All dolled up: Jessy Randalls most recent book of poetry.
Local poet Jessy Randall was elated when two of her poems were printed, placed in little plastic containers, and distributed in gumball machines courtesy of Gumball Poetry, an online literary journal.

She finds the medium a perfect venue for her craft, and questions "tortured soul" poets who equate writing with bloodshed.

"You're enjoying yourself when you're writing a poem," Randall says. "Or, why would you do it?"

She gleaned her light heart from Kenneth Koch, a poet who published more than 20 collections of poetry and was famous for his notion that poets don't have to be depressed souls sharing a bleak worldview. Randall studied under Koch at Columbia University in New York, where she earned her bachelor's in 1992.

Indeed, Randall's poems read like happy little vignettes. In one poem, the speaker plans on buying a llama farm, making millions selling llama-fur sweaters and using the money to buy a spaceship.

Randall's also quirky when it comes to enjoying her poetry. While many poets say they'd rather hear a poem, Randall says she'd rather read it. For one thing, she likes seeing the shape of a poem on the page, the simple shape of lines in their tidy, little squares. And she doesn't like poems with a lone line that sticks out farther than the other lines, creating the appearance of what she calls a "diving board" in the middle.

Randall's view of publishing as art extends to a passion for fine press, which was the first publishing medium after handwritten manuscripts and clay carvings. With fine press, every line of type is hand-selected and set in a row creating sentences and words, then put through a machine for printing on the page.

She developed her penchant for printed materials when she took a job working at Harvard University's rare books library. There, she used a dumbwaiter to retrieve works including relics like letters of e.e. cummings and D.H. Lawrence's handwritten manuscripts from the library's sub-basement.

"It was a dungeon," she says. "But I loved it."

She went on to pursue a master's degree in library science, and now holds the title of special collections curator at Colorado College's Tutt Library.

Randall's also recently been included in National Poet Laureate Ted Kooser's column, "American Life in Poetry," which is syndicated nationally. Her "Superhero Pregnant Woman" will be printed the same day as her CC reading, a coincidence perhaps even more exciting than being published in a gumball machine.

Jessy Randall reads from A Day in Boyland

CC's McHugh Commons, 1090 N. Cascade Ave.
Thursday, Nov 8, 7 p.m.
Free; for more, call 389-6607 or visit

Randall's "Superhero Pregnant Woman"
To appear in "American Life in Poetry"
Thursday, Nov. 8
For more information, visit

Click here to read some of her poems.


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