Books,  Coffee,  How did I get here,  Interviews

A Cup of Coffee with author Jared Conti

May 2022 – Hello there! I hope everyone is doing well. I’ve been busy with personal issues (life goes on, right?) and also working in a lot of projects. But I want to continue sharing stories with you.

Here I bring you another author that I met through social networks. Some people despise social media, but I do like to read positive and uplifting news about others. I met this guy on Twitter. He lives on the east coast of the United States, like me, but a bit further north (I haven’t been up north yet).

As I have mentioned before, I follow so many wonderful people on Twitter and Facebook, and now on Instagram. People who continue to inspire and motivate me and others, while working on their own projects and promotions. I’m curious about who they are, where they grew up, and how they manage their writing, their creative process and their everyday lives. I also want to know how they got to where they are.

Jared Conti, also known as The Oracular Beard

I had the pleasure of getting in touch with Jared Conti. He’s a writer, and poet, but also a father, husband and manager of a coffeehouse, Avenue 209 in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. And, to add more, he’s partner with his friend Anthony La Lota in their band called The Echo & Sway. I think Jared is, absolutely, an interesting mix of creativity.

Jared published his first book of poems Back in the Saddle: My Love/Hate Relationship with the Space Cowboy, in 2008.

“An irreverent look at love, life and loss, this poetry chapbook follows no rhyme or reason and knows no bounds. — This is the book of poetry for those who don’t like poetry.”

From – Back In The Saddle book description
The Emperor’s New Poems (2017)
Least of These (2010)

He has two more poetry publications: Least of These (2010), and The Emperor’s New Poems: Poems New, Poems Used, Poems Slightly Abused (2017).

Jared looking for his coffee

I wanted to know more about this guy, so here is our conversation:

Hola, Jared! The name of my blog is Full of Coffee, so first question: how do you like your coffee? You manage a coffee shop, you have to like coffee, right?

  • I like my coffee black. I’m not super-great at it, but it leaves room to figure out all the notes you can pick up when you have a good cup of coffee. I don’t delve too much into lattes, though every once in a while I’ll get a peppermint mocha around Christmas-time. The girls just made a Biscotti flavor which is almond, honey, and vanilla. It’s pretty good. I’m a big chai latte drink, too. It reminds me of fall.
Jared between books, looking for coffee?

My late mom loved black coffee. I like it too, but I prefer it with milk or creamer. That Biscotti flavor sounds delicious. I see you live in Pennsylvania. Tell me, where did you grow up?

  • I’ve lived most of my life in central Pennsylvania. I tend to write about the place a lot, and my major project starts here. I’ve been away a few times, and they creeps into the work, but it all comes back to here. I could probably use to leave again for a bit, come back to it fresh.

Did your childhood have any influence in your interest for reading or writing?

  • As far as childhood influence, there are a lot of references to the pop culture growing up: comic books, toys, movies. Other than this major poetry thing I’ve got going, I’d like to write a little creative non-fiction about why I write what I do. It seems a bit self-serving, but in a way, all writing is. Having kids and the cyclical nature of stories being passed down again really lights a fire in me.

You mention pop culture and that’s an interesting point; many people read comic books and they don’t consider themselves book readers. But I’d say that still counts as reading material, especially when it gets young kids (and adults too) interested in knowing more about those stories. When did you decide to give professional writing a try? And, has it affected your personal life, your profession?

  • Oh, I don’t think I’ve ever given into becoming a professional. I’ve got too much pent-up impostor syndrome for all that. I’ve got all these ideas, but I don’t have follow-through, no execution… I really don’t make the time for it like I should. I’m awful hard on myself (as you can see) but there really are a ton of factors that are getting in the way, mostly myself.
  • Marriage and a family puts a damper on things, I think. It’s tough focusing on yourself. Covid hasn’t helped things, either, but that’s a story for another day. The coffee shop helps though, professionally. There are plenty of good stories there. Lots of different threads that need to be pulled from time to time.
Avenue 209 in Lock Haven, PA

I agree when you say marriage and family sometimes take your attention from your personal interests, but we all have to find a way to make everything work. Although you mention that you do not consider yourself a professional writer, you have already published your writings. You’re also a coffee shop manager! (Avenue 209 in Lock Haven, PA) How did you become the manager?

  • I came back home in about 2004 after a brief stint living in Pittsburgh. I started attending a church that was having trouble finding its footing. Long story short, we opened up a coffee shop in a church. Through the week, it’s kind of like that “third place” that’s not work or home, where you can kick back, find some respite.
  • I’ve been manager on and off since we opened thirteen years ago on Valentine’s Day. It’s been a crazy ride, but one I don’t think I’d ever change. I’d like to own my own place someday (preferably with books, comics, and games) but we’ll see how things shake out for the time being.
The Echo & Sway band – Anthony La Lota (left) and Jared Conti (right)

That sounds like the perfect place (to me) to come spend time at: coffee, games and books. Your main writing interest is poetry and song lyrics. Tell me a bit about both.

  • I’ve been a free-form poet since about my time in Pittsburgh, so 25 years? (Man, that makes me feel old.) I’ve always been a writer, and a little scattered with my writing process, so poetry feels like the right fit because nothing really does. I used to write tiny, compact poems, hardly bigger than haiku, but extremely scathing and self-deprecating. Lots of jilted lover stuff, existential crises. Lately, it’s been longer works, but it can be awful hard to keep the narrative going sometimes.
  • As far as music goes, we do more folksy singer-songwriter stuff, and I don’t write rhyming poetry, (I actually detest it) so in some way the music takes care of that angle. It’s nice because I don’t know how to play any instrument so my partner Anthony takes care of all the arrangement, instruments, etcetera, so I just hand him some lyrics and maybe a tune and he takes it where I never could. Funny thing, we actually started out reading poetry from my first book in between Anthony doing some songs. It had matured into him writing music for some of the poems, then we morphed into me having a more centralized musical presence.
  • It’s funny, though… with as much hate as I give the rhyme, they sometimes sneak into a poem to give it a little flair. My major WIP (work in progress) is actually a long-form post-apocalyptic ballad, so it ALL RHYMES. But it fits the theme, so I have to give it the love the muse deserves.

I say it again, you are an interesting mix of creativity. Now tell me about your first published book! (Back in the Saddle: My Love/Hate Relationship with the Space Cowboy) How was that experience of getting a book published?

  • It’s been a great experience, but getting them out there is tough. I’m self-publishing, and only to the extent that I’m putting a bunch of poems together and getting them printed up. And, in addition to Back in the Saddle, I’ve also got Least of These and The Emperor’s New Poems: Poems New, Poems Used, Poems Slight Abused.
  • I’ve only ever submitted poems a handful of times, and while I’d like to be published traditionally, I’m lazy and have a lot of impostor syndrome and what have you. Maybe I need to get over that block that’s in my way.
  • I do a handful of events a year (readings, festivals, concerts with my buddy) so it’s nice to have something to offer others and talk shop.
Jared (left) and Anthony (right) – The Echo & Sway

I know the Covid pandemic did put on hold many projects and travel plans. Any future projects you want to talk about?

  • I’ve got this sprawling post-apocalyptic ballad that I’ve been working on for years. There’s the long-form ballad, interspersed with some free-form poems to fill in the blanks where rhyming would be a little too tedious. There’ll be music, pictures, maybe even some comic book paneling. There’s a lot that goes into it, but I’m optimistic. Even if nothing comes of it, just dabbling in it makes me happy.

Hopefully, future plans will be looking better soon. Can’t wait to see what else you have to show us. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me, with us.

I hope everyone enjoys this interview as much as I have enjoyed writing it. It’s a great opportunity for me to meet all these incredible writers.

If you want to know more about Jared, go follow him on Facebook @jaredaconti, Twitter @OracularBeard, and Instagram @theoracularbeard. Also visit his blog websites The Oracular Beard, POETRY, and The Echo & Sway And, if you are in the Lock Haven neighborhood, don’t forget to stop by Avenue 209, and check events in the area.

I’ll keep reading, I’ll keep writing, I’ll keep dreaming! I have some more pending projects to work on. Thank you for reading! Time for my tacita de café. Salud!

Para versión en español, vea

I'm a Puerto Rican living in Florida. Mom, Blogger, and Writer! Fan of coffee, baseball, books, sweet romance novels and Hallmark movies, and of course, my beautiful Puerto Rico.

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