Jay Aquinas Thompson

I’m a poet, teacher, essayist, activist, parent, husband, and spiritual creature.

photo by Sam Henly

INTERESTS: If you want to get me really excited, ask me about

  • Sexuality and the body in avant-garde poetry
  • The role of white folks in undoing racism and working for collective liberation
  • Catholic identity and radical politics
  • Spirituality in Romantic and contemporary post-Romantic poetry
  • The contemporary poetry of Latin America and the Maghreb (North Africa and Andalucia)
  • Punk rock
  • Teaching the incarcerated
  • Applying anti-oppressive pedagogy to poetry education

MY WORK: Poetry. You can read my poems in Fog Machine, The Stockholm Review of LiteratureTHEthe poetryJellyfishPropellerH_NGM_N, Till, Denver Quarterly, Flood Stage: an Anthology of St. Louis Poets, Super Arrow, Microfilme, La FoveaVolt, Lo-Ball, The Stranger‘s Seattle Poetry Chain, Alive at the Center, Poetry International and Pleiades. If you make me a mixtape, I’ll mail you a zine. For four years, I also co-edited the poetry journal Thermos along with Zach Savich, Andy Stallings, and Melissa Dickey.

Teaching. I’m on Seattle’s Creative Advantage Community Arts Partner Roster, available to teach creative writing to students 3rd grade and up through Seattle Public Schools. I also teach creative writing (along with a variety of fabulous partners) to women incarcerated at King County Jail. Here are three places online to read my students’ writing; here’s an article about my teaching work. If you’re interested in teaching and supporting inmates at KCJ, send me a note in this page’s comments.

Activism. I’m an ex-member/big fan of the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites. I’m a member of the Human Rights Pen Pal program, corresponding with politicized inmates in solitary confinement in California. I’m part of the Golf Pencil Group, an advocacy organization supporting the human and educational rights of inmates in King County Jail in Seattle.

Poetics. I’m a contributing editor at Poetry Northwest: here’s a recent piece on Mei Mei Berssenbrugge and one on Frederick Seidel. For two years, I also kept a column on poetics for the blog of the Kenyon Review. A few columns I’m especially proud of: a series on Cordwainer Smith, surrealism, and instrumental consciousness, one on James Baldwin, and one on the nostalgia of old dystopias.

Interviews. With Maggie Nelson, on her book The Argonauts, in The Conversant. With Eric Weisbard, on the twentieth anniversary of his SPIN Alternative Record Guide, in BerfroisWith Van Choojitarom, a brilliant and unclassifiable writer, in Kenyon Review Online (part 1 and part 2). 

Reviews. On Valerie Mejer Caso, in Poetry Northwest. On Jane Wong, in Full Stop. On Erica Mena and Robert Fernandez, in Jacket2. On Frederick Seidel, in Poetry Northwest. On Corina Copp and Ben Fama, in Kenyon Review Online. On Mei Mei Berssenbrugge, in Poetry Northwest. On Emily Wilson and Julie Carr, in Kenyon Review Online. On Norman Dubie, in Poetry Northwest. On Sara Gridley, John Cross, and Lance Phillips, in Kenyon Review Online. On Kiki Petrosino, in Rain Taxi. On Susan Tichy, Polina Barskova, and Novica Tadic, in Jacket2. Gonna periodically re-post on my blog old pieces I like that aren’t otherwise available online.

Spirituality. I attend St. Mary’s Parish in Seattle, and I’m a contributor at The Inbreaking, the newspaper of the Seattle Catholic Worker: here’s a piece I published there on anti-oppression work and liberation theology; and one on Islamophobia and ISIS. I’m also a contributor at Young Adult Catholics, a webspace for young lefty and dissenting Catholics: here are two essays on liberation, despair, doubt, and God I’ve published there: “Deep Space Deep Time Deep Soul” and “Honored Guests.”

Other stuff. I’m a member of the band Princess Seismograph, and I once co-wrote a semi-famous novelty song that you can find on Youtube. If you wanna read my Dungeons & Dragons fiction, look through back issues of Pathfinder magazine.

Also, a poem to me (scroll down) by one of my best friends and favorite poets!

I’m not on Facebook. If you wanna get in touch, leave me a comment here, or say hi on my Instagram.

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6 responses to “Jay Aquinas Thompson

  1. Greetings from someone who shares your middle name: Robert Aquinas McNally, also a poet, also a nonfiction writer. We are a rare breed.

    • Robert, I’m delighted to meet you and explore your work! I’m late to the name— I took it as my confirmation name when I converted to Catholicism as an adult— so I don’t come by it quite as authentically as you, but it remains a part of who I am.

      • Aquinas is my birth middle name. My paternal grandfather was in the first graduating class of Aquinas High School in Columbus, Ohio, and thus the name came to me. Used to dislike it, then I added it to my pen name because it’s memorable as well as ethnic in a Catholic way.

  2. Melissa J. Peabody

    Hey Jay. My best friend grew up in a Dorothy Day lovin’ liberal Catholic household. You look happy. Here… beans and brains flying
    From the pot swung in a rage
    Family fighting
    Miss your little face– mel

    • So happy to “approve” your words Mel! I miss you! Thank you for finding me in the thickets of the internet! Keep your head strong from flying pots!

      • Melissa J. Peabody

        I find that I have people in my life that I don’t see for long periods, or who I am out of touch with but who I miss. They changed me. They are part of me. The one memory of my grandmother reaching out her arms to me from her sick bed. Mrs. Shelton who taught me not to lie. JT who I never really had a relationship with but who inspires me. Mr. and Mrs. Givens who were so generous with their home. You, Jay, with your lusty enthusiasm for music and poetry. I have collected moments, words, people, like marbles or stones. They comfort and sustain me. They give me hope that I might find my way and my voice out of the eddies of thought and self denial. Lassitude, laziness, a fly in a spiders web, a worm baking in the sun after the rains have gone, a beetle on it’s back, all those things. But
        Joy.

        I miss you Jay.

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