ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Han Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Nicole Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Scott Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Keiko Amano
   Veronica An
   Amy Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Zack Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Kevin Berger
   Lawrence Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Catherine Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Heitham Black
   Jarvis Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Adam Levon Brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Zachary C. Bush
   Tony Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conesa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J de Salvo
   J. de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Amelie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Jessica Healy
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   David Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor D. Infante
   Victor Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Lois P. Jones
   Tao Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Raud Kennedy
   Bernard Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Robert S King
   Ashley King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Julia Knobloch
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Thomas KrÀmer
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Wolf Larsen
   Kasandra Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Anne Lecrivain
   Marie Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Emma Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Hyatt Mason
   Lee Mason
   Anthony Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Robert John Miller
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Kristena Prater
   Luke Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Emily Rose
   Rina Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
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   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
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   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
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   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
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   Rati Saxena
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   Ken Scott
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   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
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   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
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   June Shiitake
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   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
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   Knute Skinner
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   Lee Sloca
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   Danielle Smith
   Clinton Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
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   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Mani Suri
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   John Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Zev Torres
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   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
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   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
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   Sharieff Walters
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   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
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   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   Leigh White
   J.T. Whitehead
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   Claire Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
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   Amye Wilson
   Jessica Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
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   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
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   Julie Yi
   Gregory T. Young
   Britney Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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Angel Perales
May 2005
   

 

Ars Poetica: Rick Bursky, author of The Soup of Something Missing

Since the moment I picked up and started reading Rick Bursky’s brilliant debut of poetry, The Soup of Something Missing (Bear Star Press 2004), I knew that I had surreptitiously stumbled upon an exciting, elegant, and innovative voice of the poetic arts. I read the entire book on a first sitting and still have not been able to set the book down. The depth of mastery and meaning kept expanding on subsequent readings and repeatedly amplified my initial enjoyment of the book. The following are just a few of the hundreds of questions I wanted to ask this stimulating and stirring new Los Angeles based poet.



AUP: As an introduction to our readers, could you tell us a little about yourself and how you became interested in writing poetry?



RB: I was always insecure as a copywriter, my undergraduate degree is in art. I read a book about writing, by James Kilpatrick, The Writer’s Art, somewhere in the book he said the best writers were poets, when they wrote prose. No one pays attention to words or sentences like a poet. I never paid attention to poetry but always remembered that. A few years later a famous poet died, I forget who, and they read some of his stuff on the radio. Wow, I was amazed, nothing about love or flowers, it just seemed to be powerful short stories. So, I went to UCLA at night to torture myself in a poetry class, not to be a poet but to learn to write better ad copy. The teacher was Austin Strauss. The first night he read us The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Jarrell and Hard Rock Returns to the Prison for the Criminally Insane (I’m not sure of the title) by Knight. That was poetry? Where was that hiding? Why didn’t anyone ever teach me about that stuff? My life changed. I think that was sixteen years ago.



AUP: Who are some of your other writing influences?



RB: Wow, there are so many, I’ll just name the top of the list. Yannis Ritsos sits at the top. I return to his work over and over. I read Ritsos for pleasure and to learn. Other poets whose work is important to me are Charles Simic, David Young, Stephen Dobyns, Roger Fanning, Richard Garcia, Ed Hirsch, Laura Kasischke, Nin Andrews, and Frederico Garcia Lorca. Of course, I can go on and on: Dean Young, David Wagoner, Z. Herbert, etc, etc, etc. Like most poets, I also love reading the stuff. What a great way to spend a life, reading and writing poetry!



AUP: Is this your first book? How long has this book been in the making?



RB: Yep, the first book, two more are in various stages. Soup spans about ten years worth of writing.



AUP: How did you come about in getting the book published?



RB: I won a contest, the 2004 Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize from Bear Star Press. I did what many poets do and enter many contests, especially first book contests, though the Brunsman Poetry Prize is open to all poets no matter if they have published books before. The Soup of Something Missing was a finalist in about five contests and won two. The day my copies of the book arrived I got an email saying the book won the Pine Press Contest. Of course, I couldn’t take the prize since the book was already published. The press was a little annoyed at me for not withdrawing once I won at Bear Star. What are the chances of winning two contests? I was surprised. The final judge at White Pine was Nin Andrews sent me a beautiful email. I was thrilled to have been chosen by her, I have all of her books and admired her work.


Bear Star has done a great job with the book. They’re a terrific press.



AUP: Why the title, Soup of Something Missing?



RB: The woman who designed the cover, Robin Evens, asked me the same question. I said it’s one of the poems in the book. She said "no, it’s not." Oops, I accidentally removed it and didn’t realize it was gone, rather, it was missing. Oh, Roger Fanning actually named the book for me. He was my supervisor in my last semester at Warren Wilson, where I got my MFA.



AUP: Your book is divided into four sections. Could you talk about your organizing concept for the book?



RB: Originally, the book was organized a little differently. It was in two sections. Beth Spencer at Bear Star suggested the current form. I think it works better.



AUP: You have an excellent introductory poem, "The Necessity of Beginning", that is not included in any of the sections. At what point in the development of the book did you feel you needed an introductory poem and what is the poem's full importance?



RB: This is the newest poem in the book. Beth asked if I was writing anything interesting since submitting the book. I sent her a couple of things. "The Necessity of Beginning" was among them. She thought it would be a good opening for the book. The poem is sort of written for my friend Ian Randall Wilson. In addition to being a terrific writer he is the muckity-muck in charge of on screen credits at MGM. He’s had the job for some seventeen years, just about as long as we’ve been friends. I’ve been trying to get him to slip my name into the credits somewhere. He refuses. What’s up with that, Ian?



AUP: The war and army poems in the first section are very striking. How much is imagination and how much is first hand experience?



RB: I joined the army when I was seventeen. Spent fours years as paratrooper, infantry. I went to college after the army. To help pay for college I then joined the National Guard. It was interesting, being a platoon sergeant of an infantry platoon and a student at an art college at the same time. Every now and then I dabble with army themes. I enjoyed the army. I think it’s a great organization. I even wrote a one act play about soldiering, Prayers for the Invisible Men. It was performed by the Theater Studio in 2003.


AUP: Could you tell us more about the voice in "Advice for Soldiers?”



RB: "Advice for Soldiers" was written for my roommate from my last army post, Patrick Ballogg. Pat stayed in the army and retired as Command Sergeant Major in Special Forces just last year. We’re still great friends. I think his green beret buddies might find it funny for him to be the subject of a poem. That poem started as an attempt to actually turn parts of an army field manual into poetry. It was done at the urging of Dean Young, who was very helpful with the shaping of the piece.



AUP: Can you give us more insight on the four "Glass Boat" poems in the second section?



RB: The on-going theme in my work is that life is hard and fragile. A fisherman relies on his boat for work and the boat is made of glass. Pretty easy to meet an untimely end. This was also my first attempt at longer themes. I wanted to write something long. I got as far as four poems.



AUP: The fragile duopoly of a man's job versus a man's marriage seems to be a big theme in the book and particularly in the second section. Could you tell us more of your thoughts about this universal conflict?



RB: I’ve never been married so I’m not sure I’m qualified to speak on that topic, but "job," well, here I’m an expert. You get up each morning and go to work and take your lumps. That’s life. I try not to be too pessimistic but life isn’t supposed to be easy. Somewhere in the language of the poems, I hope, hints of futility, I mean about expecting anything better from the deal.


AUP: Who is the Butcher found in four poems in the third section? What exactly does he represent?



RB: When I was very young we lived above a tailor. I thought I was writing about that but changed it to a butcher for more resonance. After the book was published my mom said she was surprised I remembered the butcher. It turned out that we also lived above a butcher shop and my dad actually worked for the butcher. So much for making stuff up. My dad had a tough life, spent time in jail and stuff like that. I guess I was doing something with the idea of blood on the hands to support a family.



AUP: A nameless "Her" and "She" appears prominently in the fourth section. Is this section primarily about love?



RB: Hmmm, about love? I’m not sure. But they are grouped together because of the similar tone. Though I think the nameless "Her" and "She" in all the poems is every woman I’ve ever dated.



AUP: The pantoumish "The Physics of What Happens" and the great last poem "The End of the World" emphasize a theme of Love being cyclical. Is this a hopeful or a cynical view of Love and why?



RB: Good catch, "The Physics of What Happens," actually was a pantoum in the first two drafts. The view of love in my poems is cynical; in real life, off the page, I’m actually optimistic.



AUP: Could you talk to us a little bit more of the personification of animals and pets throughout the book? (Samson, the Monarch Butterfly is my favorite but you also have a talking dog, a sperm whale, various dead pigs....)



RB: I love dogs, they are God’s greatest of animals. They love unconditionally. I write about dogs out of admiration. I don’t have one now but wish I did. The other animals, well, we share the world with them so I share my poems with them. The animals in my poems are often stand-ins for emotions. An animal can represent sadness, fear, etc. Emotions are easier to bring to life through animals, when you use people it tends to get sentimental.



AUP: Only one poem in the whole book is over a page long. Could you tell us about your poetic notions of compression and brevity?



RB: All of my poems start longer, then I cut and cut and cut. It actually bugs me to no-end. As a way of protest, last year I began a book length poem, The Myth of Photography. I’m up to page forty-two. I hope to have a first draft finished in a couple of months. It’s sort of a history, made up, of photography. I used to be a professional photographer. My undergrad degree is in photography.



AUP: Some of your pieces are more like flash fiction but extremely lyrical. How did you manage to combine both?

RB: I love prose poems. Richard Garcia got me started writing them about ten years ago. I’m conscious of making them lyrical because I’m not a fiction writer, I’m a poet. I’ve sort of lost the prose poem. Ellen Bryant Voigt over at Warren Wilson took some of the steam out of my ability to write them in my first term over there. She said something like "you know how to write them, let’s look at things you don’t do so well." When I continued to show an interest in them she said something like "if I catch you writing prose poems while you’re my student. And don’t think I won’t slap you silly." Seriously, Ellen was great and really taught me about putting some music in my work.



AUP: Most of your poems are composed of longer and fuller lines as opposed to short emphatic 2 or 3 word lines. Why?



RB: The longer line resonates for me in the way it echoes Ritso’s sound. The languorous quality has more of an echo. Though the poems I’ve been writing this year have a much shorter line. They are meant to move faster.



AUP: I found this book to be the most elegant I've read in a long time. I also didn't feel like the use of vocabulary was inaccessible or academic in any way. Could you tell us about your art of finding the perfect and all-important elegant word? And following this thought, do you do much rewriting and editing?



RB: I edit and revise forever. Writing takes place in rewriting, everything else is just typing. I get a new word sent to me online from word-a-day. It’s great fun and I often try to use some in the poems. Then I come to my senses, what’s the point of sending someone to the dictionary; like anyone is really gonna bother. I often choose words by the sound. I want the lines to sound interesting and make noise. I prefer words with deeper sonic qualities.



AUP: What is next for you? What other projects do you have planned?



RB: I have a book about half-way done, The Invention of Fiction. And then there’s the book mentioned earlier, the book-length poem, The Myth of Photography, really getting close to being done. I work at the poems every day. Most of the time I’m just scribbling crap but every now and then a poem finds its way out of the stink. I collect fountain pens so I’m motivated to write every day as an excuse to play with my pens. I write everything long hand in a notebook. I even like the sound the nib makes scratching out a word on the paper. Watching ink dry can be poetic. I’m lucky, I like everything about being a poet. I’m very lucky.



Rick Bursky was born in New York City but moved to Los Angeles at the age of fifteen. He earned a BFA in Photography from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and a MFA from Warren Wilson College. His poetry has appeared in the Alaska Quarterly, The American Literary Review, American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Harvard Review, Hawaii Review, International Poetry Review, Iowa Review, Mid-American Review, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, Seattle Review, and the Tampa Review. The Soup of Something Missing is his first collection of poetry. He currently teaches writing at the Art Center and works fulltime at DDB, an advertising agency.


copyright 2005 Angel Perales