Duluth-based poet wears 'Too Many Hats'
Jess Morgan has written a love letter to Duluth through a collection of poetry set to be released March 30.
DULUTH — Poet Jess Morgan wears a lot of hats. Ever since they moved to Duluth in 2016, they've found themselves taking on a lot of roles. Currently, they're working for WE Health Clinic as an abortion services educator, doing some copy editing for Perfect Duluth Day, farm-sitting for various farmsteads, and working as an occasional sound technician and wedding DJ.
"I have ADHD and I'm someone who has a hard time working full time with the way that my brain works," Morgan, of Duluth, said. "I like having multiple part-time jobs or gigs. And that's why I wanted to name a blog 'Too Many Hats.'"
But the blog never emerged, partly because Morgan was busy doing all those other things. But they did find time to write poems about their various jobs. As the founding member of the Duluth Poetry Chapter, Morgan spends time each week writing poetry so that they have something to share at the meeting. Eventually, they realized they had enough poems to create a collection centered around Duluth, work, community, healing and queer exploration. So it felt natural to pick up that old blog idea and use it for the name of their first book, "Too Many Hats."
"Through the lens of an ADHD artist, I explore the people, places and landmarks that I have come to love in Duluth since I moved here in 2016," Morgan said. "It is essentially a love letter to Duluth through my lens."
I didn't realize when I moved here just how much I was struggling with PTSD. I think that some of the experiences I had and being able to juggle so many hats wouldn't have gone so well in different areas.
Some of the poems that explore these local themes include: "The Burnt Art House on 18th Ave. E. Reminds Me of My Dad," "'Sidewalk Days,'" "I Think Midwesterners Can Smell That I'm Not From Here," "Mother Superior in February" and "A Goat-Sitter, Abortion Patient Educator, Sound Technician, Photographer and Copy Editor Walk Into a Bar."
"A lot of the book is also about my healing journey as well," Morgan said. "I didn't realize when I moved here just how much I was struggling with PTSD. I think that some of the experiences I had and being able to juggle so many hats wouldn't have gone so well in different areas."
Morgan also came out as nonbinary over the last few years and explores their "queer awakening" through their poems.
"I realized I hadn't quite figured out my gender and sexuality as much as I had thought," Morgan said. "So it was also a chance to write about that exploration."
Morgan also undertook the book project as a way to help their fellow writers. As the founding member of the Duluth Poetry Chapter, Morgan aims to help writers get their work published. So they applied for and received grant funding from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council and a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.
"Those help with freeing up some of my time for writing," Morgan said. "And now I see how the process works and can help my fellow poets out."
Now that they've written their first book, Morgan said they're already thinking of ideas for their next one.
"Something I'm finding exciting about the writing process and putting out a book is that not everything I ever want to write is in there," Morgan said. "Looking back at it, I'm like, 'OK, what are the poems that haven't made their way out of me yet? What are the the poems I still want to write? I've realized, through this process, just how many more books I actually want to do."
But first they need to check in on their next part-time gig.
"Too Many Hats" will be available for sale at a book release party at 6:30 p.m. March 30 at Wussow's Concert Cafe in Duluth. For further book sale information, follow Morgan's Instagram account, jesscribe.the.vibe .