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Our Next Feature: David Jewell


David Jewell is a an artist of many mediums.   A poet, photographer, performer and sometime-cloud, he embodies the Austin spirit in every creative undertaking. He worked at Garner & Smith in its heyday as the focal point of Austin’s counterculture on the Drag, back when Quack’s was still on Guadalupe. Poetry-wise, his works include Lizards Again from manic d. press, Joe by Backyard Press and the fabulous Stories From my Autobiography: The Years of Torment and Ecstasy. Most recently, his photography showed with fellow photographers Nathan Black and Stephen M. Gray in an exhibition titled The Black Gray Jewell



His is an ecclectic resume; he’s appeared in movies like Linklater’s ‘Waking Life’ and his poem, “Delusion Angel” played an integral part in ‘Before Sunrise’.


He’s performed his work at the Salvage Vanguard Theater, Hyde Park Theater, The Vortex, collaborating with a variety of artists and incorporating video, stagecraft and music to produce some truly outstanding spoken word events. Currently, he is collaborating on a project with musician Sergio Samayoa, that may or may not involve lion tamers, acrobats and clowns.

I had a chance to meet with David Jewell recently, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

Would you call yourself a poet? An artist? A performer? All of the above?

Sometimes I feel like a writer, or an artist, or a photographer, or a performer, or a weirdo, or a coffee drinker, or a shoe wearer, or a sleeper, or a car driver; and a lot of the time I just feel sort of either very confused or maybe in awe––I like the awe––not so fond of the confusion, in general, except it can lead to interesting things too sometimes.
What can you do in poetry that you can’t in photography? Or vice versa?

I think I got into photo because I was tired of language, and I’m not good at music, and I was tired of trying to express things and having to use words which always seemed to mean something I wasn’t trying to say, or not getting the mood right of what I was trying to say. So, with writing I feel I look inward more than outward. And, with a camera, I’m always looking at things outside me and just reacting to them spontaneously, and photos have some sort of mood or something about them but they aren’t so tied up with meaning and language. I could really go on for hours about photography and writing. Each one has a certain power, and I really don’t understand either one in any fundamental way. If I ever come up with anything that works it feels like blind chance or luck played a big part. If you write a hundred poems, a few are bound to be pretty good. If you take a few hundred photos, they’ll be some good ones in there. You just have to enjoy the process I think.
 What do you think about Austin’s literary scene? Art scene? How has it changed over the years, or how is different from other places (you were in Maine awhile, right?) you’ve lived?

The Austin art scene, lit. scene, dance scene, theater scene, music scene, etc. etc. has always been amazing, at least since I moved here 26 years ago, and from all the stories I always heard, was amazing from the 1920’s or who knows when. Something about the confluence of University town and Capitol city and Barton Springs and the river. Some sort of collection of energies here that is really unique for some reason. The various scenes have changed this way and that over the years, and the growing city sure has a different vibe than the one I am nostalgic for, but, the amount and variety of creative people here is just fantastic. You can put on a show if you want to. You can meet like minded folks easily and collaborate on something. It’s very rich. Very free. Very accessible and encouraging and generous. And the folks are nice, good people who are having fun doing what they’re doing, and are doing it for love and letting the money fall where it will.
Who would you say your most important influences are?

As far as influences go, that’s a lot more fun to talk about over a cup of coffee. I mean, geez, how could anyone name them all. Or remember them all. And maybe some of the biggest ones are things that happened or people that walked by that you didn’t even notice and still don’t remember but just changed you somehow. you know? The biggest influence is probably the year you are born, and the place you are born. And the genetic things, and family things, and environmental things and so on. That’s all the stuff that gets you spinning to start with.


You can read some of his work here and here.


David Jewell will be featured August 7th

at Austin Java, 1206 Parkway (12th and Lamar), 7-8:30pm



  1. 08.08.08 at 12:14 pm

    The August 8 2008 reading by Jewell, Riot Ink and assorted others was a classic Austin poetry event at it highest level. Jewell’s performance is the gold standard for Poets anywhere.

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