The art of writing #51 : Buck Downs

How did you first come to writing poetry? What is it about the form that resonates?

I came late to poetry, I think, relative to many poets I have met. That may contribute to a sense I have of being in “catch-up” mode, which is of course only my delusion, since this is not a race. I guess it was/is the last house on the block, having tried many others. The hospitality I have found is what keeps me there.

How does a poem begin?

The poems themselves start with a long wait. I am a constant keeper of notebooks and a reviewer of my old notes. I am usually working from a transcription of notebooks from 4-6 years ago, looking for an angle of approach. Looking at what I thought from the perspective of what I am thinking creates a parallax that is as close to a theme as I get, I suppose: I thought this, but now I think that.

You’ve published multiple full-length poetry collections and chapbooks. Do you see your writing as a single, extended project, or a series of self-contained units?

Each of the poems has an anaclitic lean on the pages that surround it, despite that they may also express a degree of autonomy. Recognizing that integrity and interdependence are necessary complements for a whole person or a world, constantly learning that again, is another theme or activity of the work.

Have you a daily schedule by which you work, or are you working to fit this in between other activities?

My workflow developed most of its current shape at a time when I was a fully-employed person, with everything that implies, as well as having relationships and commitments that were generally rewarding and engaging but required time, energy and dedication. I believe strongly in a writing practice that fits into the time and energy available at the moment, both for me as a poet and for anyone who comes to read my poems.

What are your favourite print or online literary journals?

Our mutual friend rob mclennan is a hero of poetry publishing; I routinely tell anyone who cares to ask that a subscription to above/ground is, pound for pound, the best deal in North America. Down here, it seems like every season a new press or journal springs up with jaw-dropping good work; too many to list. But I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Jonny Lohr and Alice Ladrick, whose Adjunct Press has been bottling some real poetic fire.

Who are some of the writers you are reading lately that most excite you?

Similarly, hardly a week goes by that I don’t see something amazing that I haven’t seen before. Under the category of “got here too late” I would put the poetry of the late Michael Dennis, who I learned of less than a year ago, shortly before he passed. Pearl Pirie is another quiet genius who I am returning to. Stephanie Barber and Lauren Bender’s book Status Update is a book you should get if you still can.




Buck Downs’s latest book is Not Right, Now! available at Buck Downs Dot Com ( In 2017, Furniture Press Books of Balitmore published a selected poems, Unintended Empire.

A selection of his poems appeared in the fifth issue.