Q: Do you have any super secret rituals that help your writing process?
A: Super-secret rituals? Like, NSA-restricted, Illuminati-connected tics? Absolutely. Many. I always [REDACTED]. But I think everyone does that, at least to some extent. Of course, I also [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], probably because of my upbringing, although [REDACTED] certainly also plays a part. Finally, while it embarrasses me to admit this, I instinctively [REDACTED] whenever I think I can get away with it.
Q: What parts of your writing have you put the most focus on?
A: Oh geez, um, besides the usual solipsism-driven attempts to capture fleeting emotional states and to self-mythologize, I like to mess around with parallelism and repetition—probably too much so, in fact. Give me anaphora or give me death! And I try to be attentive to phonetics. I like my phrases to feel good in the mouth. So, in short,
1. writing about myself and 2. style over substance. In the future, I hope to grapple productively more with social and cultural forces, especially my own privilege vis-à-vis intersectionality, and to provide my lines (in terms of lengths, breaks, indents) with more variety but more purposefulness.
Q: What do you think the future of the printed word will be in the next 50 years?
A: Online writing will solidify its primacy as the way most people get most of their information. Meanwhile, physical books will move in two directions. Best-sellers and other popular texts will be print-on-demand—like, right from the home printer—and considered disposable, something to read to kill time on toilets in bathrooms with no Wi-Fi access. But literary works will become high-end collectible commodities, treated somewhat like rare LPs on vinyl, or like the upscale Vintage Contemporaries imprint that replaced many cheap(er) pocket-paperback editions in the 1980s.
Q: What’s your writing mantra?
A: “Let’s find this orphan a home before it totally outgrows its cuteness.”
Q: What are you reading at the moment?
A: I’m spending all my time lately walking a lot instead of reading. But currently sitting at the top of my piles of neglected books is The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, a fantastic anthology edited by Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, and my buddy Nate Marshall. I’ve also started picking through Jericho Brown’s The New Testament, Morgan Parker’s Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night, Rebecca Scherm’s Unbecoming, my friend Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen, Saeed Jones’ Prelude to Bruise (my copy of which is printed totally backwards, back to front, maybe as a result of Coffee House Press doing an overnight rush printing at AWP in Minneapolis), Jamaal May’s Hum, and Megan Levad’s Why We Live in the Dark Ages.
A graduate of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, John F. Buckley has been writing poetry since March 2009, when his attempt at composing a self-help book went somewhat awry. After a twenty-year stint on and near the West Coast, he now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wife. His publications include various poems, two chapbooks, the collection Sky Sandwiches, and with Martin Ott, Poets’ Guide to America and Yankee Broadcast Network. His website is http://johnfbuckley.net/.