An Interview with Poet and Author Bucky Sinister
A Bay Area resident since 1989, Bucky Sinister is a poet, self-help author and comedian. Bucky has written several books of poetry including Time Bomb Snooze Alarm and All Blacked Out & Nowhere To Go detailing his life in the punk scene. He has also written two self-help books, Get Up: A 12-step Guide to Recovery For Misfits, Freaks & Weirdos, and Still Standing. Currently Bucky performs stand-up comedy and can be seen in a weekly comedy show called The Business at the Dark Room in San Francisco.
Q&A with Bucky Sinister
Did you always want to be a writer?
I didn't want to be a writer until I was 19. I read a book by Charles Bukowski called Ham On Rye. It was the closest thing I'd experienced to my own life. This was about 1988. Punk music was in its prime. I latched on to that for its energy and anger. But while punk expressed what I felt right beneath the surface, Bukowski talked about what I felt deep inside that I had no language for.
What originally drew you to San Francisco?
I moved to San Francisco to become a famous poet and be published by City Lights. Neither one happened. I did get published, though.
How did you get started writing poetry?
I started writing poems in 1987 but it wasn't serious. It was something to do. One of the local punk clubs had an open mic night. I thought it would be fun to write something horribly offensive and yell it at people. No one was offended. Girls liked it. That was enough for me to come back.
What made you decide to write a memoir?
I wrote a self help memoir because the opportunity presented itself. A publisher who knew my other works asked for it. One of the editors who worked for them convinced me that people would want to know my story.
What other poets do you enjoy reading?
What made you decide to try stand-up comedy?
I enjoy being a part of an art scene and learning from others. In the Bay Area, I don't think I have much left to learn from the poets. There's not a lot going on. However, in comedy, there's a huge boom in creativity and individuality. One of the big things in comedy is creating your own voice, the sound of your work. I feel that when I go to the poetry readings now, everyone sounds the same.
George Carlin's famous routines are very similar to poetry. There's a line between comedy and poetry. Carlin's on one side, Ogden Nash on the other. I would like to straddle that line. I need to be a better comedian, though.
Do you have any advice for aspiring poets or writers?
If you write ten pages a week and read a book every week, you will improve steadily. It's the best way to learn to write. After two thousand pages and two hundred books, you will either be good or you will quit and do something else.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
My favorite authors other than the ones I've listed are probably Harry Crews, Flannery O'Connor, and William Faulkner. Ring Lardner and Hemingway's short stories. Philip K Dick. Kurt Vonnegut. William S Burroughs. I'm sure I'm leaving out twenty or thirty.
What is the last book you read?
What do you appreciate most about libraries?
My young life was full of chaos and hardship. During two really difficult times as a young boy and as a teen, I lived near libraries. They were quiet places for me. No matter what was going on, I always had a peaceful place to go to read a book. The rules were few and easy to follow. I can't express how important this was for me.
Brighid Gonzales is a Brisbane Library intern and library student.