Wess Mongo Jolley is an expatriate American poet and poetry promoter living in Montreal. He is Founder and Executive Director of the Performance Poetry Preservation Project (http://poetrypreservation.org), and is most well known for hosting the IndieFeed Performance Poetry Channel podcast (http://performancepoetry.indiefeed.com) for more than ten years. As a poet, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Off The Coast, PANK, The New Verse News, Danse Macabre, The November 3rd Club, The Legendary, decomP, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, RFD, TreeHouse Arts, Warrior Poets, and in the Write Bloody Press book The Good Things About America. After a quarter century living on 60 acres of rural Vermont, he now writes full time from his balcony overlooking rush hour traffic in Montreal; a gorgeous, dirty, gritty, artsy, ecstatic, appalling, and vibrant beast of a city, which he has come to love the way you love a good-hearted uncle with Tourette’s. He can be found on the internet at http://wessmongojolley.com, and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wess Mongo Jolley is an expatriate American author, editor and poetry promoter, living in Montreal.
Born and raised in Utah, Mongo grew up in Park City, a mining and ski town 30 minutes outside of Salt Lake City. He attended the University of Utah, majoring in Theater with an Acting Emphasis. During those early years he worked on numerous short stories, as well as Peace Reach, a biographical novel about his 1984 months-long solo excursion into the northern Canadian wilderness. He also wrote voluminous journals during several years of adventuring in the wild areas of the west, as well as over 5,000 miles of solo bicycle touring.
It wasn’t until more than a decade later that Mongo discovered what would become one of his greatest passions: poetry and spoken word.
It all began with the poet Allen Ginsberg, whose work has fascinated Mongo since he was in high school. In 1995, he created the tribute website Ginzy.com, which quickly grew to become the most respected and comprehensive source of information about Ginsberg on the internet. At the time of Ginsberg’s death in 1997, major media sources selected the site as the primary resource for information on the poet, and Mongo became key in organizing readings to celebrate Ginsberg’s life, all across the country. Ginzy.com was closed in 2001, as Google and other search engines made the clearinghouse nature of the site unnecessary.
In 2006, Mongo founded the IndieFeed Performance Poetry Channel, which featured the best spoken word artists in the slam and performance poetry field. In over ten years of podcasting, IndieFeed featured over 600 poets and 1,600 episodes, with a total download count of over ten million episodes distributed. During these years the show was consistently listed as one of the top three poetry podcasts in the iTunes music store, and listeners can still find the archive of the show at http://performancepoetry.indiefeed.com.
In 2010 Mongo, along with Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz and Thomas Bouliane, founded the Performance Poetry Preservation Project (P4). This partnership between the poetry slam community and the academic world has ambitions to collect, preserve, protect, and provide access to the recorded history of the poetry slam movement. In 2017 P4 transferred the collection of many thousands of items and tens of thousands of performances to Dartmouth College’s Rauner Special Collections Library. The organization continues to expand and build upon that collection. You can find the P4 website at http://poetrypreservation.org, and the permanent P4 collection catalog is at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~library/rauner/.
In his non-literary life, Mongo was a Certified Records Manager and an information management professional with over thirty-five years of experience in the field. For twenty-two of those years he was the Records Manager at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where he also served for eighteen months as the Interim Manager of the Rauner Special Collections Library. In these two roles, he nurtured a keen interest and built extensive experience in historical preservation issues, information technology, data system design, and digital record keeping. At his retirement, Dartmouth granted him the title of Records Manager Emeritus.
In the early 90s, prior to his work at Dartmouth, Mongo spent a half dozen years as a Crisis Counselor and the Data Management Coordinator for the California Runaway Hotline in Sacramento, California. During these years he also founded a chapter of ACT/UP (the infamous direct action AIDS activist group founded by Larry Kramer); created Bear Byte Data Management (a relational database consulting business); and for a time was the Layout and Design editor of the legendary Pagan journal Green Egg, edited by Diane Darling and Oberon Zell. Much of his writing is heavily influenced by the deep connection he had during those years with The Church of All Worlds, and their nature sanctuary, Annwfn.
Mongo’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Off The Coast, PANK, The New Verse News, Danse Macabre, The November 3rd Club, The Legendary, decomP, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, RFD, TreeHouse Arts, Warrior Poets, and in the Write Bloody Press book The Good Things About America. Audio versions of his poetry have been featured on the IndieFeed Performance Poetry Channel, and Cloudy Day Art. He has performed his work at many open mics across the country, including The Green Mill, The Bowery Poetry Club, The LouderArts Project, and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.
Since his retirement from Dartmouth College, Mongo has freelanced through WMJ Manuscript Services as a manuscript consultant, specializing in helping poets craft the best possible manuscript out of a collection of poems. He has worked with many authors including Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Derrick Brown, Anis Mojgani, and Jack McCarthy, among others. In more recent years, he has offered his consulting, copy-editing, and proofreading services to prose writers as well.
For the past three years, Mongo has been hard at work on what has become his most ambitious project yet: The sprawling supernatural horror novel, The Last Handful of Clover. Mongo describes the work as “an epic meditation on aging, loss, and regret”, and “perhaps the most challenging thing I have ever tried to write”.
In between these things, Mongo characterizes himself as a polyamorous queer faerie pagan poet bear. After a quarter century living on 60 acres of rural Vermont, he now lives with two of his three partners, and writes full time, from his balcony overlooking rush hour traffic in Montreal.