Current City, State, Country
Birth City, State, Country
Janaka Stucky is a mystic poet, performer, and founding editor of the award-winning press Black Ocean. He is a two-time National Haiku Champion, and is the author of a few poetry collections, most recently Ascend Ascend (2019) published by Third Man Books & Records, and as a limited fine art folio by Fulgur Press in the UK. In 2023, a recording of Janaka Stucky performing Ascend Ascend live in Seattle with cellist Lori Goldston was released on a vinyl double LP by experimental music label, Neurot Recordings. His writing has appeared in a variety of publications such as The Huffington Post and Poetry Foundation—and has been profiled in SPIN, The Believer, Vice, and BOMB Magazine.
Janaka’s poems are at once incantatory, mystic, and epigrammatic. His esoteric influences, combined with a mesmeric approach to performance, create an almost ecstatic presence on stage. He has taught or performed in over 60 cities around the world.
What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?
My most recent book, Ascend Ascend, was written over the course of twenty days, coming in and out of trance states brought on by intermittent fasting and somatic rituals. Rooted in the Jewish mystical tradition of Hekhalot literature, which chronicles an ascent up the Kabbalistic Tree of Life to witness the Merkabah, or “chariot of God,” this book-length ecstatic poem drafts a surreal, mythological landscape in which maximalist language shreds the natural world.
The work itself (both in the book’s chapters, and as a performance) is structured into the four spiritual worlds of the Kabbalah: Atziluth, Beriah, Yetzirah, Asiyah. After having a transformative vision in which I witnessed what I understand to be an analog of the the Merkabah, I became interested in exploring my roots as a third-generation Lithuanian Jewish immigrant descended from a notable Jewish mystic. You can hear me talk more in-depth about the subject in this interview I did for the Boston JCC’s “Vibe of the Tribe” podcast.
Ascend Ascend (Third Man Books, 2019)
The Truth Is We Are Perfect (Third Man Books, 2015)
The World Will Deny It For You (Ahsahta Press, 2012)
Your Name Is the Only Freedom (Brave Men Press, 2009)