Emerging Voices is a series of profiles following writers, artists and performers currently studying at UNO. The profiles cover the personalities of these various writers and the projects they’re currently working on. For this installment, Gateway Contributor Jeff Turner spoke to UNO Student Peter Jeske.
Jeske is a Fiction major with a minor in German.
“I have always enjoyed writing. My ability to write seriously came into play after my graduation from high school,” Peter Jeske said on his beginnings. “When I would think of a potential story, regardless of whether the plot had entirely come together, I would just write it from start to finish, and that became something I would do for fun in the summer.” As a writer, Jeske has always been at his most inspired when he has written as a hobbyist.
Jeske likes fiction, but finds nonfiction too constrictive. His writing can read like a fusion of the two mediums, “I like the creative freedom fiction offers, and nonfiction allows me to utilize my research.” Jeske prefers to write on topics he has researched and read about in detail, “if I don’t write on topics I’m well versed in – my stories are uninspired.”
Jeske spoke some on his writing process, “I require a distraction-free environment. I cannot listen to music, my dog cannot be pestering me, I can’t have the TV on – I need complete and utter focus for when I am writing. I am usually the guy who will have overconfidence in his writing skills and start the week’s poem, fiction or essay due for Friday on Thursday. I don’t spend as much time editing as I’d like – I’m often working.”
Jeske is a lover of military history, particularly the Civil War, “it changed how war was fought – you see photos from the civil war and they look like they could have been taken during World War I.” One of his fiction pieces, “Loyalty”, is a historical piece showing the operations of a battalion during a conflict in the Civil War. What’s noteworthy about “Loyalty” is the external detail – Jeske is masterful at drawing the reader in with details about the environment and period and the operations of the unit.
Jeske is experimenting with one of his latest projects, “I will listen to a random song on my iPod and write a page on how it speaks to me. With thousands of songs to work with, it has kept me busy.”
Jeske’s is specifically fascinated with the battles. “Battles are fluid – they move back and forth, each side gaining, losing and regaining momentum until one side has nothing more to give. The tales of valor and heroism on the battlefields stir my heart like little else can.” There are other facets of the war that he wants to adapt, “Boys and young men played a large part in the war. More than 250,000 Civil War soldiers were under the age of 18, many of them musicians. A good number of generals were in their twenties, some of whom never lived to see thirty. I’d love to tell these people’s stories.”
Peter Jeske will graduate from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in the Winter Semester of 2021. “While I’d be fine working where I am now, I’d love to be a Civil War historian when I graduate. I would relish learning about any of the battlefields – its something that would come to me naturally.”