Luke Kuzmish is Alien Buddha Press’ featured artist for the month of April 2019

ABP- Thank you for agreeing to partake in the feature, Luke. One year ago, in the April of 2018 Alien Buddha Press had the privilege of publishing your poetry chapbook Little Hollywood. Please tell us about that book; when went into it, and what came out of writing it.
LK
I appreciate all you have done for the poetry community. I had published a few chapbooks previously, but they were staple-bound, and you had to run into me to buy one. Making my writing available through Amazon seemed like an impossibility. Thank you!
As for Little Hollywood, it was a book primarily written within the first few months of getting clean after a relapse. Little Hollywood is the name of the neighborhood my fiancee and I live in, and I think that was a decision you and I came to for the title. It’s a really bizarre name for a book or for a neighborhood, and I like that.
The process of writing while not using drugs was always an obstacle to overcome. My first stint in a drug and alcohol treatment center was back in 2012, and I really thought that my ability to write was directly linked to the drugs I was taking. I’m an impatient person, and the ability to find my voice was one that took time. Writing the poems that would become Little Hollywood felt like the first step in proving that to myself.
As for what came out of it… Confidence? Acceptance? Hope? It’s hard to say. I’m proud of the book, but I have found that when I look back at a
 skill I’m still improving on, seeing progress means recognizing shortcomings. I see a lot of progress in my writing today compared to just a year ago.
ABP- You have been a pivotal part of the live poetry readings that ABP hosted in Erie PA at Ember and Forge last year. What was that like? Do you have any amusing stories from those reads?
LK-
I love Hannah [Kirby, owner of Ember+Forge] and the people who work at Ember+Forge. They have been incredibly gracious to Jay Miner and I to allow us to put on readings there. I actually have two readings coming to Ember+Forge, April 13th, 2019 and May 11th, 2019. The April reading is going to feature Cee Williams, Keith Moses, Monica Igras, Kat Wolper, Jason Baldinger, and Scott Silsbe. May 11th will feature Kevin Martin, Scott Silsbe, Jason Baldinger, Sarah Shotland, and Carrie Hohmann Campbell. Heavy hitters all around.
I have been involved with the local Erie poetry community for a number of years. Cee Williams used to run Poets’ Hall which was a club dedicated to poetry and spoken word. I am incredibly lucky to have been so welcomed into the fellowship there. Cee really encouraged me a lot too, and it’s always a special thing when someone you admire tells you that they dig your art. Going to see and hear other writers every week really kept me writing… I always wanted to rise to the people around me. I got exposed to a lot of different voices.
Probably one of the most interesting things that happened as a result of the stuff with Ember+Forge is that Liz Johnson, the woman who painted the mural featured on the cover of Little Hollywood, reached out to me because she saw my book sitting around the coffee shop. I had no idea
 who created that mural when we published the book, so that was a cool moment of synchronicity.
ABP- You recently wrote something that I as a former resident of Dover NH can relate to entirely, “New Hampshire is good intentions…house guests who pawn your things & break the dryer before they go… a rented room found on Craigslist owned by beer drinking Patriots fans who scream & scream at their kids… five miles under the speed limit through winding back roads when I’ve been dope sick and sweating a trip to & from Boston”
What advice would you give to somebody currently in a similar situation who is wanting to get out?
LK-
I’m assuming that you mean escaping the bondage of addiction rather than how to move out of New Hampshire: reach out. As I mentioned before, the first time I went into a detox facility or a rehab was in 2012… I didn’t have even 6 months of sobriety until 2017. I consider myself beyond lucky, fortunate, or blessed to have not died in the time in- between.
I’m a master practitioner of self-deception, and that plays into my ability to sustain a 10+ year long addiction in the face of degradation and failure. I had to do some uncomfortable things like talking about how I feel and taking suggestions. There’s help available but it requires a big effort on the addict’s part.
ABP- I have also seen that you have recently become a father, congratulations. Has that changed your creative process as a writer at all?
 LK-
Thank you! I feel like having a child has cracked open a part of my being. I wear sweaters and slippers all the time now… that’s gotta be good for a writer, right?
But in all seriousness, I have been a lot more focused in my life. I feel like I’m attached to the ground. I have been writing in a fervor as of late too. The nature of having a young child is being awake at odd hours. This gives me new and different times to write.
ABP- Who are some of your biggest artistic influences?
LK-
Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Jim Carroll, CS Lewis, William S Burroughs, Philip Levine, Charles Bukowski, Robert Pollard…. jeez what (mostly) a depressing list. I move more to the beat of the community of writers around me, so it’s important to mention people I perform with and/or swap ideas online: like Matt Borczon who writes a new stunning piece every day.
ABP- What do you have planned for 2019, and what past projects should we look out for?
LK-
Check out Little Hollywood on Amazon. I have some poems that will appear later this year in Call Me [Brackets], Rigg Welter Press, Nixes Mate, Anti-Heroin Chic, Mojave River Review, Soft Cartel, Cabildo Quarterly, and Picaroon Poetry. I have readings scheduled at Ember+Forge in Erie, PA… I’ll keep Alien Buddha Press in the loop.
ABP- It was great to feature you here Luke. The floor is all yours. Please, share anything you would like with our readers on wordpress. Anything at all.
LK-
Thanks again!
“docket sheets” (originally appearing at Horror Sleaze Trash) https://
Video of Little Hollywood book release held at Ember+Forge Coffee on May 25, 2018. Thanks to Thasia Anne for capturing and editing this. https://youtu.be/S8dIUEhG85I?t=651
“sam” (originally appearing at The Beatnik Cowboy) https:// beatnikcowboy.com/2018/05/17/luke-kuzmish/
“fourth step” (originally appearing at Ink Sweat & Tears) http:// www.inksweatandtears.co.uk/pages/?p=18696
bus x
I remember
getting onto bus X my bus
stoned from two hits
 of mid-grade weed
out of a metal pipe
a stolen heirloom
with a portable CD player held in my dirty hands
in the low morning light of third semester suburbia
I sat in my seat
and watched the grape vines go by
listening
to The Ramones
I think
I could’ve died happy
right then
but
of course
life happened
the cops took
my pipe
and
my Ramones CD got scratched
 
women/words/wisdom
there are some doors
better left unopened
otherwise get stuck carrying brooms
a direct line to god
i never found essential he finds me enough
in dreams and in tongues spoken by little baby daughters in dead men’s rooms
who used to be brothers
and hustling thieves
become bourbon vapor acquaintances
in stardust
we all met once
found each other again
you could be my mother
 or maybe we played ball that one time on vacation
where i died
full body baptism washed in the undertow
and mary
mother of eternal hell misplaced me
momma thought it was aliens swapping me out
for another woman’s dead child
she loved me just the same said
you’ll forever know your kinfolk
I will leave you with a poem from Little Hollywood:
punishment coffee
at the food bank
 that citizens of the county could visit once a month
I volunteered
not by choice
at the food bank
at 9:15
a bell was rung
and the workers stopped to say a prayer
at the food bank
I’m not Catholic
in fact
every where else
I’m not Catholic either so
reciting Hail Mary
wasn’t something I could do I joined in on Our Father
at the food bank
they asked if I wanted coffee & I did
so Tony made it
he was fat and old
it tasted terrible
 it was a donation probably stale
definitely cheap
I don’t like creamer
but I tried it with creamer and it made my teeth hurt like a bolt of lightning
to my molars
at the food bank
every day I drank the coffee
8 ounces from a styrofoam cup it was more like a punishment than a pleasure
but
every day I drank the coffee
at the food bank
it crossed my mind
to throw out the canister of coffee
but God only knows when and with what they would replace it
at the food bank
there was a guy named Slinger
 he pushed carts
half full
a month’s worth of food for a family of 5
Slinger was happy Slinger volunteered –real volunteering
not the kind I was doing
at the food bank
they’d make coffee
and no one would drink it
I’d pour it out
before I left around noon
my pockets stuffed
with sweets
from damaged packages
in white box trucks
that I unloaded
Tony never satisfied
with my ability to take direction in putting the food away likewise
I was never satisfied
with his ability to state
exactly what he wanted
 at the food bank
they gave away rosaries
cheap plastic rosaries
with instructions on a paper
in a ziplock bag
drug addicts wore them
around their necks
always made me think
about
Chris Farley
begging the prostitute
not to leave him
up for days on cocaine and fades then praying the rosary
and dying ashamed
lk

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