I started off as a musician in high school, playing guitar and bass. Coming out of high school, I knew some of my own songs as well as those of other artists. I didn’t start writing poems for a while though—except in high school, for English class, when I wrote a poem that said, “Let’s blow up the rotten school and build ourselves a swimming pool,” which raised an issue at school similar to bomb threats in this day and age.
Then there was this dirty poem I wrote in my early twenties. But I was still writing songs then. I took some college courses in jazz, piano, songwriting, and creative writing.
Back in 1985 I recorded with a famous producer. Butch Vig produced Nevermind by Nirvana, a number-one album of the year in the early nineties. Then in 1986 I started a twenty-year sentence for a crime. That’s when I started writing poetry. I took a course in creative writing from UW-Extension. I wrote a few poems and people liked them, so I wrote more.
There came a time when I used poetry as therapy. I would write two poems for every two weeks. And that beats writer’s block. A lot of that stuff is in Best of Ken Jackson.
I was released in ’99 and put out a bunch of rock ’n’ roll albums. I was also participating in a monthly poetry group for a while. I wrote one section of this book using a variety of student researchers.