Lorraine: Are you originally from Toledo?
John: No, I am not originally from Toledo, but moved here in 2003. I am a military brat, born in Hawaii in 1976. I grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA, and went to college at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, I finished a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Writing for Film/TV in 2002.
Lorraine: What do you think are the differences between poetry readings in Philadelphia versus Toledo?
John: The main difference between readings in Philadelphia and readings in Toledo;if you can believe this, is that there are more readings in Toledo–though I do miss spending my first Fridays with Kevin O’Neill and the Twin Poets at the Painted Bride Arts Center’s ‘Day of the Poet’, an event that is now sadly long gone from Old City.
Lorraine: How long have you been writing poetry?
John: I started writing poetry when I was around 12 years old, and I started publishing around the time I began high school. Up to this date, my work has appeared in about 1,000 magazines and anthologies. I have authored somewhere around 20 books since 1995, including my latest, “Sodomy is a City in New Jersey” published by American Mettle books, an imprint of Grievous Jones Press in February of this year. In 2006, I was the winner of the Toledo City Paper Poetry Contest. Also, my work has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize.
Lorraine: Where do you do most of your writing?
John: I do most of my writing during out of town reading tours. I like to write in hotels, like the Lucky Club in Las Vegas. If not then, then in early morning hours at my writing studio at the Collingwood Arts Center, where I co-host the weekly open mic poetry reading with Covert Press founder Michael D. Grover.
Lorraine: What kind of techniques do you utilize when you write?
John: I try not to get too technical. I read just before I write, because if you aren’t reading you have no business writing.
Lorraine: Are you a fast writer?
John: I used to be a fast writer for many years, but lately the work comes very slow, because the poems are usually longer and more narrative now, more personal.
Lorraine: What poet and/or author has been most influential in your desire to become a poet?
John: You know that really is a toss up between Ted Berrigan and Gregory Corso. Berrigan impacts me as a poet every day with his work, and Corso, who was a friend until his death in 2001, does the same thing for me as a person. He impacted me in the way that he lived his life, he really walked the walk.
Lorraine: What are you currently working on?
John: I am currently working on a long book length poem called “Sam Ryan is in Noodle Heaven” about an old friend who was shot dead by the Philadelphia police a few years back.
second hand unicorns
for Todd Moore
here sirens chime like church bells in a tombstone factory
and i think of you
how you will never
get to shoot at dragons
with a tommy gun on the streets of laredo
how lorca came back
as a firefly his wings dipped in blood
how there is never enough time for anything
how we seem to
live our lives in dog years
when it is my time
i want to be reborn
as a second hand unicorn
i want to be
a citizen of oz again
clicking my heels
together in a arizona dust storm
i want to be
a fly on all
of the walls in heaven
a tumbleweed on the
very last breath of the dead
i want to come back
on the lips of dreamers
on the mouths of young lovers
i want to believe
that all being an outlaw
really means is having
the ability to love
i want to wake up dreaming
a tune i can’t remember the words to
your last poem tucked inside
my heart like a bullet
like a secret
that will only
come out in song