6 Questions with Jacqueline Suskin – Author of Go Ahead & Like It!

by Jessica on May 14, 2015

Towards the end of May we are so excited to host Jacqueline Suskin!! She has a new book out titled, Go Ahead & Like It. We were able to ask her a few questions about how she got started writing poetry and how the Poem Store came about as well as a little look into what Go Ahead & Like It is all about. Enjoy her answers and we hope to see you at her event on May 27 at 7pm!

A Little Bit About Jacqueline: Jacqueline Suskin is a writer, performance poet and artist based in Los Angeles. She is the author of two books, the latest entitled Go Ahead & Like It available April 28, 2015 from Ten Speed Press of Penguin Random House. Known for her ongoing work with a piece she calls “Poem Store,” Suskin composes on-demand poetry for customers who choose both a topic and a price in exchange for a unique verse. Poem Store has been her main occupation since 2009 and has taken her around the country with her typewriter in tow. Suskin has been featured in New York Times, T Magazine, LA Times, Time Out LA, as well as other publications and has performed at events for various organizations including Art Basel, Los Angeles Contemporary, Art of Elysium and SF MOMA. Recently she collaborated with fashion brands Alice + Olivia and Nasty Gal, finding endless ways to bring poetry into the mainstream.



6 Questions with Jacqueline Suskin

Let’s start at the beginning! When did you start writing poems? What drew you to poetry?

I’ve been writing poetry ever since I was a little kid. For some reason I was drawn to the written word before I even knew how to properly create letters. My parents were always reading to me, taking me to plays and such. So from the very beginning of my life I was filling up notebooks with my own cryptic language. 

When and how did you start the Poem Store? What were the initial ideas behind that?

Poem Store started in 2009 when I met artist Zachary Houston in Oakland, CA. He had been typing poems for years and asked me to join him one day at a street fair. Initially it was just a writing exercise for me. It wasn’t until I started typing in Arcata, CA at the Farmers’ Market that I realized I’d developed a career as an on-demand poet.

Go Ahead and Like It has such a beautiful and simple message behind it and something I think all of us can relate to. Can you talk a little bit about the idea for turning it into a book?

I’d been writing lists of likes for about ten years before I started this book. A friend in college gave me a list of his likes as a note when we were first getting to know one another. Without really noticing I started making lists all the time. My journals were full of them. Years later I looked through my heaping collection of things that I like and I felt really inspired. If this was such a beneficial practice for me all of those years, it could surely be helpful for other people. After I had that idea the book came to me in different phases, but always with the underlying tone of a how-to-guide, an instructional and helpful tool that would offer up a method in which to celebrate the small things that make life so meaningful.


Is there a part of the book that is your favorite or that you find the most inspiring for other people?

My favorite part of the book is the section called “Dig Deeper, Ask Why.” I really enjoy the further exploration this section provokes: the idea that liking something can be very simple, and yet if we choose to discover why we like the things that we like we can uncover our depths. People seem drawn to the answers this section provides because it speaks directly to the social media question. The connection between liking things on the internet and liking things that one writes out on a piece of paper is important. In this section I ask my readers to go deeper than the click of a button, to explore why they click in the first place, and to ask themselves what does it mean to actually like something. Everyone seems to get really excited by this concept because I think it’s lacking in the social media forum.

What do you hope people will get out of the book?

I hope people will be reminded that life is full of details that are inspiring, that each day offers up an infinite source of meaning and that in any situation we can find beauty. The small things are the accessible things that link us to the greater picture. Often the world is too large, too painful, and too demanding, but if we can focus in on the tiny aspects that bring us joy we will discover that our ability to like things, to delight in life, is truly unlimited and this is worth celebrating!

Lastly, what’s next for Jacqueline Suskin?

I’m working on two new projects. One is a book of poetry about California. The other is a follow-up to Go Ahead & Like It. This book will explore the concept of digging into the past to discover a rich source of self-appreciation. We do so much in our lives, we move to new places, we get new jobs, we meet new people, we recover from illness and loss. I feel that looking back on life doesn’t have to be a painful experience, but another outlet for celebration and joy. My goal is just to create accessible work that helps people appreciate the wonder that is life.