JAY MAZYCK (He/Him) is a Black queer creative from Brooklyn, NY. He is currently receiving BFA acting training at Rutgers University. He starred in the Off-Broadway production of Chisa Hutchinson’s Surely Goodness and Mercy (Keen Company) as well as Michelle Tyrene Johnson’s radio play Buried Roots. A reading of his first full length play, MAD, was included in the 2019 season of Corkscrew Theater Festival and he was one of the seven playwrights award commission in the 11th season of the Obie Award-winning Fire This Time Festival. His short play, If Men Were Flowers, will premiere on PBS, along with the rest of TFTT’s Season 11 program in Fall/Winter of 2020.
Tell us about yourself! Where were you born, where did you grow up? What’s your cultural background?
I am a Black queer man born, raised, and living in Bed-Stuy. A beautiful place that has so much history and you feel that everywhere you go. It’s changed so much since I got here but it’s also maintained itself in a way. Like you can’t separate Bed-Stuy’s present from it’s past, it all co-exists.
My mother works with older people who are neurologically divergent. She’s always been in the servicing field. She’s always helping somebody. She taught at a daycare, she’s worked at a nursing home, she’s been out there. My grandmother is a pastor and also works at this finance company called TIAA Cref. She does a lot but also gives a lot. Both my mother and grandmother have a fire in their throats. Both of them use language in such an effective way. My grandmother wrote her own sermons so she was the first writer I knew. With my mother, I’ve seen her do a lot of things to get a lot of things so she’s the first actress I’ve known. Yeah I’m a product of both. I probably get my silence from my father.
Tell us about your writing, how did you come to your craft? What drives your inspiration?
I always wrote. I wrote poems. I wrote them on the house computer. My grandmother would write her sermons and I would write poems. My grandmother would read what I wrote and then hype me up. She’d post it in her cubicle and stuff and tell her co-workers and then her co-workers would hype me up. So I always felt that I was good even if I wasn’t at the time. I knew people liked my words. I also was a shy kid so it was a relief that I could write instead of speak.
I still am shy and I think people use that and try to dismiss me when I do speak. I talked about that with my therapist. I came to the conclusion that it’s impossible for anybody to dismiss my words on paper. When I write I’m very clear in what I’m talking about. I very rarely do anything extravagant or metaphorical with my language because I don’t want anything lost in the translation. You’re gonna know what I’m saying, who I’m saying it to and so on. Because what I write is mine and not yours. You can connect with it but you cannot change what I said and you cannot get it confused with your story. It’s mine and I’m going to let you know what’s up.
How does your identity/ cultural heritage influence your writing?
I’m Black and Queer. So most of the time I’m writing about how niggas aint shit or my partner if they made me upset that day lol. I rarely write about white people because they don’t do anything for me. But my vernacular is Black. And by that I mean I write using the language I use and that I hear my friends and family use. I refuse to worry about conventional westernized grammatics and mechanics. That also doesn’t do anything for me. Some people find my language remedial while others say it’s hard to understand. When any criticism comes up about the language itself I just refer them to a proverb originated by Ms. Nene Leakes, “I said what I said!”
Are there any themes that come up frequently in your work?
Honestly, rage is so sexy to me. I also talked about that with my therapist. I love the idea of purging. We all contain feelings in some way or another–especially anger. Although we get angry at someone, We very rarely get to be angry to someone. No one gets to experience that fury except for us. We live in an age of text message and posts and the best we can do is post a subliminal caption or send a lengthy text message that may not get read all the way through. It’s very hard to just be angry now. You gotta be angry and smart and manipulative because most of the time the person you are angry at isn’t there. So most of my “poems” (if that’s what people want to call them) are rants from people who get the opportunity to share that anger with the person who hurt them. I also think there’s self love involved when you allow yourself to be angry and communicate that. Telling somebody they ain’t shit to their face is self-care.
What do you hope the reader takes away from your work?
The ability to leave or speak up or both. I write from a place of being unheard. So if you feel that way I hope you either leave the person who isn’t hearing you or scream at them until they have no choice. You can also do both. But people need to know when you’ve hurt them. They need to know that they hurt people. We need to know that. So we can change.
I also think there’s too many love poems out there. Too many things telling people to stay where they are. Romanticizing relationships. Relationships are work! They’re so beautiful but they’re work. I’m in one right now and it’s work. Lovely work but still…work. Too many people are writing about how their loved ones are these perfect ethereal beings with galaxies in their pupils. Why? Why would I want to lie and say that the person I love is perfect? Why would I say they are God? They aren’t. They’re human and flawed and they do fucked up shit just like me. I love them and they make me happy but they can also make me sad and angry and everything else. That’s the truth of it. People are lying just because it sounds nice on paper. Like we all know when you look into her eyes you don’t see a million galaxies. When you look into her eyes you get hard. And that’s okay. Write that. I think sometimes people confuse poetism and lyricism with lying. It’s the opposite. Write the truth even if it’s not romantic because that’s where the love lies.
In your opinion, what is the role of writing/ storytelling in the Black Liberation Movement? What do you believe is your role?
It’s whatever we want it to be. And my role is whatever I make it. Black Liberation can manifest in a very personal way. Liberating your best friend to leave an abusive relationship is Black Liberation. Telling your partner they should quit that Rite-Aid job is Black Liberation. Black Liberation doesn’t always have to be related to whiteness. With that being said I think our role as a people is to burn this shit down and build something different and much better than what them causasions did. We owe it to ourselves to be angry when we want and let that manifest in whatever way we want. But also knowing that anger and joy can co-exist. It’s crazy to think about but it can. I’m in a constant state of rage but that’s not going to stop me from laughing at a meme someone sent me. It’s not gonna stop me from shaking my ass to Megan Thee Stallion’s Body. And it’s not gonna stop me from loving my partner who is one of the greatest joys of my life. Imma do me regardless. That’s my message to the community. Do you regardless!
Anything else you wanna share!
Just a special thanks to God, my mother, my grandmother, the city boyz group chat (taj, stanley, and joshua), my partner (cam), and myself. All of them have given me so much love and joy. They make life beautiful for me. Thank y’all.
Oh, and if you don’t have a therapist. Please find one. Please.
Follow Jay at @_jaymazyck