An Interview with Punk Poetess Leia John @suckasspoetry

Punk Noir Magazine

Can you tell our readers a little bit about how you got started in the Literature scene?

I’ve been writing my entire life, but it wasn’t until last year that I started posting old poems to a WordPress site while going through a rough patch in my personal life. It was an idea born of too much coffee (large, of course), very little sleep and a desire to take the edge of a nasty depressive episode. I had this enormous backlog so I just typed that shit up and scheduled it to post every day. I must have tagged it right because people began following.
At that point I wasn’t thinking about publishing anything beyond that site, I was content limiting the content to whoever managed to stumble upon it. Then Matthias over at Newington Blue reached out to me to see if I was interested in submitting a poem to a Bukowski anthology he was putting together. That kind of prompted me to think about publishing outside of my own bubble – of course this led me to the sweaty crotch of the internet; Twitter.

You’re best known for your most recent poetry collection Fuck It how did that collection come into fruition and what were your inspirations for it?
“Fuck It” came about because Matthias over at Newington Blue believed in an emerging writer and took a chance on publishing a full length collection. If ya’ll like my work, then it’s his ass you wanna kiss for bringing me out the WordPress abyss.
The inspiration behind “Fuck It” is the same for every aspect of my life; honesty and authenticity. I’m not here to suck anyone’s dick – I’m writing because it’s a compulsion for me, because it’s the way that I process the world around me and what’s going on inside this head of mine. My writing is for me – if people like it then cool, if they don’t… well, I really don’t give a shit. It’s not for them anyway.

What advice would you give to up and coming indie poets?
Wooo! You really wanna start some shit with this one, huh? Okurr, here we go.
First: learn to write. I shouldn’t even have to say this, but there are a lot of writers out here that can’t put together a fucking coherent sentence, let alone a paragraph. Learn. To. Write.
Second: Don’t be a pussy. Stop comparing love to a flower, a sunset or whatever the fuck trite imagery that’s been used two million times over. Poetry is the expression of human emotion, and the vast majority of human emotion is a pile of flaming dog shit. Grow a god damn back bone, dig deep and WRITE IT. Stop trying to make it beautiful – it’s not. Stop trying to put a silver lining on it – there isn’t one. What resonates with people isn’t fabricated beautified bullshit – what resonates is the human condition.
Third: Understand that you’re not owed a motherfucking thing; not publication, not a rejection letter, not an award, not a book, not followers, not recognition, not praise, not condemnation. Nothing. You’re not owed, entitled to or deserve a damn thing. Know this, embody it – then keep writing.
Finally: That dream of being a successful, world renown, lauded writer? Get that out of your head – it’s not going to happen. Write because you have to, fuck everything else.

What are your plans for the future?
Well, my immediate plans are to take a piss then eat something.
If we’re talking beyond that then it’s the PhD application and pushing out my second poetry collection out with Budget Press in late October.
I don’t know, man, I just take shit as it comes.

What is an issue you care about deeply?
Human Rights. Some of the people that follow me know that I’m a Human Rights worker that documents abuses in conflict zones – which has led me to a few rough places in the world. I’ve worked with several NGO’s and last year did an internship with the United Nations. So, yeah, that’s a big passion of mine.

What novel are you reading now?
Actually, I don’t read many novels – I just don’t have time. Right now I’m switching between Flavius Josephus’ Antiquities and several journal articles about the socio-economic realities of the Roman occupation of biblical Palestine. (I’m working on an academic publication which I’ll double dip for my PhD application’s writing sample which will turn into my dissertation if I get awarded a spot.)

What music are you listening to now?
The Arctic Monkeys’ AM album. I could listen to that shit on repeat for a decade and not get sick of it.

What did you last eat?

If you could go on a drinking binge with 5 writers alive or dead who would you choose?
I can feel that there’s this expectation that I’d pick Bukowski, but the fact is I’m not going to pick any non-academic writer that I like. They can’t teach me anything beyond what I already know which is to write from your guts.
Writers/Editors of the Tanakh
Writers/Editors of the Gospel
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Naim Ateek
Cornel West

What would you like written on your gravestone?
Go away.

Leia John is a writer, human rights activist and seminarian based in New York, USA.

The motivating force for Leia is authenticity. She writes about her life with no punches pulled, no prisoners taken and with the subtlety of a bulldozer.

With each poem crafted she takes aim at the expectations imposed upon women, seminarians and human rights workers – then blasts them with double barrels, leaving behind a far more nuanced picture of people in these roles.

Her writing as been described as, “refreshing, well-crafted, authentic poetry. It has edge, it challenges, grates, is funny and above and beyond and including the effing and blinding – it has a lot to say.”

Hobbies include hot baths, baby talking her Bullmastiff, shit-posting, fan-girling over Ace Frehley costumes – particularly the Dynasty era – and arguing biblical interpretations with assholes on the internet that don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

Turn offs include other people’s feet, bell peppers, any Gin that isn’t Tanqueray and the word ‘moist’.