Andrew Buckner, along with acting in three Independent motion pictures, is the author of two full-length poetry books. They are The Human Condition and Song of Survival: Poetry in the key of Freedom. His children’s book Grand Poppa’s Favorite Chair and his dual autobiography Into Existence’s Immortal Flame have just been released. He has also released poetry through Middle Island Press:
The Flesh Is a Prison and Unity Amidst Our Suffering. As a screenwriter, he has co-authored the horror work Whispers in the Darkness with Russell Stiver. Currently, he is working on his first novel.
(“Coffee with the Poets” interviews are conducted
[Andrew joins us from Ohio, dressed smartly and greeting politely, and he takes his coffee with French vanilla creamer.]
MIP: Beautiful September day! Being that poets have sensibilities for these things, what is your favorite month of the year, and why?
AB: My favorite month of the year would undoubtedly be October. With the beauty of Fall abounding and the hot suns of summer officially vanquished, it is always the time when I find myself most inspired by nature.
MIP: You just released another collection of poems through Middle Island Press: a two-volume collection called Unity Amidst Our Suffering, and you also have a child forthcoming. (Congratulations!) When your little one is big enough to listen to your poetry, which poem amid Unity would you be most enthused to read aloud to him or her, and why?
AB: Although I speak of many subjects such as police brutality, political corruption and the horrors of racism, which are absolutely vital subjects for older children to be made brutally aware of, I would have to chose “When the Curtain Falls” as the single poetic work I would be most excited to read to my child. It is a true First Person recollection from the eyes of an innocent that tells of what a genuinely wonderful person my grandfather was, and of the crushing pain and sorrow I felt as I watched him helplessly fall victim to Alzheimer’s. The reason I selected this for my child to hear of would be for two reasons. The first would be the great chance it would be to find out about what a genuinely terrific individual, and true inspiration, the child’s great-grandfather was to me. My second reason would be to learn of the unfailing, eternal bond and positive impact of family which is the perfect lesson for a father to carry on to the next generation of his kin.
MIP: Your mode of expression reads as lyrically on the page as it sounds to the ear when you rhapsodize. How long have you been honing your poetic skills, and what qualities do you strive for?
AB: I would say my first few fledgling attempts at poetry were in either the First or Second Grade when I first became mesmerized with the advanced spoken word poetry style of Rap music and also rhymed verse on the page. So in that sense I would say it has been over two decades, yet it wasn’t until I was about twelve or thirteen when I began to make it a goal to write as often as I could. Perhaps it is because of the roots of my inspiration to write being woven from a foundation of musical verse that expressed the problems of society as well as the agony of the oppressed but these have become the qualities I have striven for. As I became older and became inspired by the works of poets such as Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Saul Williams, I swore a silent vow to myself to always inject content into my personal verse that reflected the social and political struggles of my time. Being that these forms of oral and penned verse have had such an overwhelming impact on me, I wanted to craft my style as a bridge between poetry on the page and the popular form of spoken word that is Rap. Also, as in the work of Hughes, Angelou, Williams, as well as Hip Hop emcees such as Tupac Shakur, whose honesty and brilliance guide me to this day I would like to assess awareness, honesty and knowledge of the events shaping the world around me as the cornerstone of my work.
MIP: Your poetry in general is extremely passionate and at times boldly strident, yet you are a gentle person ruled by heart. If you could improve something within your community, what would it be?
AB: We definitely need to see more organizations and programs which help those in need: after school programs, shelters for the homeless, more kind-hearted charities and gatherings of activists. These are absolutely vital in aiding not only a community, but the world entire to thrive and grow in a way which is absolutely necessary to any area in our age. If we were to see more of these types of assemblies it would not only provide the positive change mentioned locally, but also it would give those who are involved a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem which are the seeds which make good men and women become great.
MIP: Much of your poetic work is free-flowing in style, but you also have a talent for crafting forms (as becomes evident in your being selected to contribute to an anthology titled A Fancy of Formalities). What is your favorite form to write in, and what do you like about it?
AB: Of the various forms I’ve worked with, I would say that I enjoy Sestinas the most. The reason for this would be that it really underlies that various meanings a single word can take on through repetition. Also, I admire the unpredictable, avant garde style a poem in this form usually takes.
MIP: Is it also your favorite form to read, or do you have another preference for reading enjoyment?
AB: Sestinas are truly beautiful poetic works for many reasons but being a lifelong admirer of the works of Shakespeare I feel more inclined to say the sonnet is my favorite form. The iambic pentameter is a bit daunting at first but the end result is well worth the patience and dedication the form demands.
MIP: What are your literary aspirations?
AB: My aspirations always have been to right the wrongs of the world through the eternal, undying power of words as well as leave an honest chronicle of the thoughts, attitudes, political and social events of my time. I have always believed that is every serious author’s duty to do so. This way, we can have someone hundreds of years from now who is curious as to what it would have been like to live in our time look at our works and get a clear vision of the era in which we dwelled.
MIP: So you aspire for your words to be a bridge that facilitates the unity of cultures and societies, and you wish for the people of 2200 to have a clear picture of 2011. That sounds ideal! Would you consider yourself an idealist in the realm of poetry?
AB: Yes, I would say I am an idealist in the sense that I whole-heartedly believe words can shape our present as well as our future. Also, I am an idealist in my manner of thinking that with my aspired hopes, my penned sentiments will be able to paint a timeless portrait of my age for the sake of upcoming generations.
MIP: It is my pleasure to share your words with the world, and I wish you many successes in poetry and in life. May I also share some lines from one of my personal favorite poems of yours?
MIP: “Incriminating Time” (Lines 16-40)
from Unity Amidst Our Suffering, Volume II
So inescapable, incriminating time!
For I can see the encapsulating gates
Of adulthood and its prison-like barbed wire
And the streetlights of old age rising,
Still lost in adolescence’s cerulean fire!
So inescapable, incriminating time!
For I am fed up with being stepped on!
Losing my strength,
Being a forsaken pawn
At arm’s length!
More than anything I’m tired
Of sinking beneath life’s murky undertow!
More than anything I’m tired
Of believing I can survive
This ocean of distress and its infuriated flow!
For who is this man in the mirror?
I think I realize him
Less and less every day!
Though in this moment,
These eyes of green
Shall never see clearer
Why I must exist this way!
MIP: Forthright honesty from your innermost depths is one of your endearing qualities, and on that note, thank you for allowing me an opportunity to interview you.
AB: Thank you for this great opportunity!
Andrew Buckner’s poetry and prose can be found online through various websites, and his most recent collections can be found through Middle Island Press.