Born in Edson, Alberta Fisher currently lives and works in Victoria, B.C’s downtown core. His first short story–for what it’s worth–was published when he was 19.
Fisher has written three collections of poetry: Bulletin From The Low Light, Death Day Erection, and iii.
His pieces have appeared from Balzac to Berlin in ezines, indy rags, and some of the finest trade publications.
Read a review of Fisher’s most recent book iii.
BCP: Why did you start writing poetry?
JF: Probably around age 10, when i started all my other vices…
BCP: What is your writing process?
JF: It’s all over the place…sometimes it’s in the old Hilroy notebook, sometimes it’s on the phone, sometimes it’s in the tub. Whatever the medium, it’s always compulsive, often uncomfortable, and constantly a dance.
BCP: Who are your favourite writers?
JF: Selby Jr., Algren, Miller, thousands really.
BCP: Many of your poems have elements of early Rolling Stones songs: criticism of cops, open drug use, mention of Pontius Pilot and GOD, and naming a poem “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”. Are the Rolling Stones a big influence on you?
JF: Huge. Music was the first great love of my life. You could name artists from Monk to Moby, and i could point you a line i stole, riffed, reworked or revamped.
BCP: Much of your poetry is about raw sex—men dominating women sex—as well as drug and alcohol abuse. Do you fear that this will turn some readers away or have you recieve criticism?
JF: I can’t do what I do without incurring criticism. Readers bring to the work exactly what they get out of it. I’ve been accused of all kinds of things. My job is carving the lines, I don’t lose sleep about its reception. Life is messy, I’m simply describing the carnage at the wet-end hour.
BCP: Are you compared to Charles Bukowski often? Do you see that as a compliment?
JF: I was in the early days. It was a fair accusation back then. I had to move thru it, like Lennon aping Presley. It’s an enormous compliment. Can you fucking imagine what this interview would be like, the state of poetry, without his affect? Id probably be a dental assistant or a physical therapist. Buk turned on the light in the shit house. He was the first indication that what i was doing, had been doing for decades, had a place in the pantheon.
BCP: Many of your poems are minimalist poems. Is this form of poetry your favorite?
JF: I have no favorite form. I’m not a big poetry fan. Too soft. I love lyrics, and I eat words. 98% of what I read is in the traditional novel format. Poetry is simply the way it comes out. It was never by design.
BCP: There seems to be a divide between book poets and spoken word artists. Your awesome poem stupid poet tricks seems to mock spoken-word. Care to comment?
JF: There is an obvious divide, yes. That piece mocks so many of today’s conventions, id be hard pressed to address them all. It wasn’t aimed at spoken word (which, along with all things hip-hop related, I stand in awe of).
BCP: iii is your third collection. What have you learned since your first collection? How do you think you have grown as a poet?
JF: I’ve learned to say more with less. As for growth, that can be a kind of death. I’m sure its there, but its for the reader to decide. I’m certainly having more fun than I was when I started. I’m getting away with more. My inspirations, the sources, the meat, they are getting older, tighter, more damaged. A kind of tortured brilliance has come at the cost of so much life. I find it impossible not to celebrate that decreptitude. Maybe that’s made me more sensitive, cynical, or, as many have commented, just a total fucking prick. As long as I’m spitting out lines, I’m moving forward. Maybe that’s growth, or just a fancy sickness…
BCP: Much of iii is about people of the down. Do you have a soft pot for people having a hard time in life or are you just writing what you know, or both?
BCP: During our interview you shared having three books in your bag. Do you prefer the real book to the E-Book? Do you see the E-Book benefiting or hindering poetry?
JF: I’m for anything that gets the words out. I’ll read anything anywhere anytime.
BCP: I really enjoyed iii. When does your next collection come out?
JF: That’s unknown. There’s enough material for 20 collections. Will they find a home? I just don’t care. I can’t afford to. If I get hung up in that, I might as well go to work for Pepsi, or Hallmark.
BCP: What advice do you have for young poets out there?
JF: Don’t take advice. You either know all you need, or you’re fucked.
Tune into Black Coffee Poet October 5, 2012 for a video of J.Fisher reading from iii.