Poetry News

"So I spent a couple days sitting in front of a café covered in blood.": An Interview with Chico's Lousiest Poet

By Harriet Staff

Stephen Handlin, Iraq veteran and founder of the Lousy Poet website, took part in this short interview that is really lousy.

Why did you become a poet?

While I was art major at USC, I ended up taking some mushrooms and writing in my notebook “words are an inefficient means of expression,” so you should only use pictures. The next day I saw that and wrote this little rhyming poem about my dog. All of the sudden I could rhyme, and I had fun with it. I was like, what can I do with this? So I went to a café in Santa Monica, and the experience of performing the poem led to the inspiration for the next poem. Then I just got into a deal where I wrote every day.

There was a period in your life where you were homeless. How did you get off the streets?

I was living in a ’73 Camaro with my dog. That was actually a great time. Being a homeless poet in west L.A. is the coolest thing—chicks dig you. But one day I broke down on the highway. I go to start the car, and it backfires. My pitbull was always easily spooked, so she jumped out of the window. She never hit the ground—a truck hit her and she ended up about three lanes out. So I spent a couple days sitting in front of a café covered in blood. My future wife invited me to her house for a shower, and I just sorta never left.

Has your experience in Iraq influenced you creatively?

Going to Iraq is great experience for a writer if you’ve got nothing else going on. You learn so much about people and life; war is a human experience like romance—no two are alike.

Jump for the rest, and head over to his website. Submit!

Originally Published: November 10th, 2011