Andre F. Peltier as Alien Buddha’s Featured Artist for February 2023

ABP- Thank you for taking this interview, Andre. Last summer, ABP had the privilege of publishing POPLANDIA, and it was one of the season’s bestsellers. What can you tell us about the book?

AP- Andre Peltier’s “Poplandia” is an eclectic and wild ride of fun fandom constructed with touching personal memory, and irreverent speculations. Peltier reaches the reader with well-crafted homages to iconic fixtures of popular culture. He exalts the commonplace with his poetry— but not without surprises— expect spiritual visits from John Coltrane, Peltier even makes his own garage a “Dagobah” during a father/son moment while exploring the passing of time.

— Melanie Maria Goodreaux, author, Black Jelly

Andre F. Peltier’s Poplandia, populated with popular culture references from Elvia Presley to Godzilla and Superman to John Coltrane, issues forth real and fictional characters in visuals that when combined create a narrative not unlike an old-time hand crank film. The still images flip “over and over, / nostalgia” replete with sensitivity and daring. While the references are both woven through and center the poems, there is always a sense that Peltier’s renderings are both memorializing and saving what might one day be found discarded in a “dirt mall.” As Wyatt Earp ropes the moon and Coltrane is discovered among the rigatoni in a pantry, readers are set to wondering, along with the poet, “how many records,” films, artists, and creators “have saved our lives?” Joy and hard truths rub against each other racking these narrative poems up like pool balls aimed for a pocket in clipped lines most often of three to five words. Near the book’s close, we are made most aware that popular culture has consistently “carried our hopes for the future in our hearts” yet the “fear of the bomb lives in our souls.” Readers are sure to carry Poplandia’swords and images into their own futures with a longing now not only for the cultural icons themselves, but for Peltier’s poignant renderings of them.

– Deirdre Fagen, author of Find a Place for Me and Have Love

ABP- Can you share one of the poems from the book with us here?

AP- Let the Rigatoni Be My Reeds

The ghost of John Coltrane
lives in my pantry.
He steals chickpeas,
long grain brown rice,
red lentils,
& black-eyed peas.
He comes out
once in a while
to stretch his translucent limbs
& rattle his transatlantic chains.

At night, I hear
Alabama, Lazy Bird,
Lulu Se Mama
float through the kitchen.
I’m laying in bed
and My Favorite Things
echoes off of a canister
of granulated sugar.
Sara asks me to
turn off the music
so she can sleep.
I say, “It’s not me;
it’s John.
He’s up to his old tricks
Haunted by a
sax player/
mad genius/
lover of licorice:
it could be worse.
Sometimes, during the day,
when he thinks no one is
he glides outside
to see the garden
and watches the progress
of the tomatoes and herbs.
Neighbors have whispered,
“Hey, I saw a creepy,
old guy in your
back yard yesterday.”
“It’s only Coltrane’s ghost,”
I reply,
“checking the meter
and tapping his toes.”

This is the year of the
This is the year of the
everlasting jam.

When that tumor
consumed him,
only forty years old,
fans and critics
thought it was the end.
Loving wife
& loving kids
lowered him to eternal rest.
No rest for the wicked though.
He was live at Birdland,
live at the Vanguard.
He is live behind the pasta and marinara.

The ghost of John Coltrane
still searching for the
perfect al dente tone.

ABP- What do you have planned for 2023?

AP- As always, I’ll be teaching a lot, but other than that, lots of writing. I try to write a few poems every week, but recently I’ve been working on a long one so I’ve been dedicating more time to it. I have a new collection from Alien Buddha coming out in the spring called Ambassador Bridge. While my first book is a collection of pop-culture-oriented stuff, this one is more political/environmental poetry. I also have a collection from Finishing Line Press coming out this year called Petoskey Stones. It collects poems of mine with a nostalgic focus on growing up in Northern Michigan.

Favorite writer? Favorite book?

AP- Obviously, this is a tricky question. I guess Leaves of Grass was the poetry collection that really got me into poetry. It’s the first book of poetry I ever bought, followed quickly by Ginsberg’s Kaddish. That was back in the summer of 1992, right after I graduated from high school. I love the 19th Century French poets like Rimbaud, Verlaine and Mallarme and a lot of the 1960s Black Arts writers like Baraka, Giovanni, and then June Jordan from a little more recently. I’ve recently been reading a lot of Ada Limón and Joy Harjo too.

As far as fiction is concerned, I teach African American Lit, so a lot of what I read comes from that tradition. I can’t recommend Paul Beatty enough. He is absolutely amazing. Of course, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, and James Baldwin too. Lately, I’ve been reading a ton of William S. Burroughs as well. He’s just so weird.

ABP- What is the art/lit scene like in Michigan these days? Have you been to any readings or events?

AP- Along with teaching, I also, until recently, worked at a local indie bookstore, so I had the opportunity to attend many local readings and meet a few of my favorites. I spent an evening with Alice Walking just chit-chatting while she signed books, and I got to introduce Nikki Giovanni before her reading in Ann Arbor.

I’ve participated in three or four local events since my book came out last fall, and I will be hosting an open-mic poetry night at a local store starting in a couple weeks. I’m planning to do some reading further from home in the summer, specifically in Cleveland, Chicago, and in the town of my youth, Petoskey, MI.

ABP- Thank you again for taking this interview. If there is anything else that you would like to announce, promote, share, or anything else, please do.

AP- I guess I’d just like to thank Alien Buddha for the support and encouragement. The last few months have been a dream come true. I got into publishing my poems a little later in life than a lot of people, but it’s always been something I wanted to do. Thanks for having me and keep a lookout for my new books throughout 2023.

POPLANDIA now available on Amazon


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