with Barton Smock:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Barton: I began completing poems in 2008, but had written long before many untitled things and many death metal lyrics for bands I was never in. My first poetic influences were Mark Strand, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sharon Olds, James Tate, Judy Jordan, Jorie Graham, Andrew Hudgins.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Barton: Even though I came to him late…Franz Wright. I think he was there.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Barton: I grew up in smalltown Ohio. I’m not sure what that means, but that’s usually what I say. If there is something in my bones, I’d say it’s some sort of cold that sends a toddler outside in a diaper to stand on a cement block to see the ocean.
I haven’t been to too many places physically. Influence, to me, has always seemed sort of doomed. I do have four children, and they come with their own territories. My youngest son has a progressive disorder of the muscle and the brain, which often makes of place an empty dot that we go skin-to-skin to fill. It’s that filling that uproots.
Q4: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Barton: As I am parented by the recent, I’d have to say a longer exploration titled ‘diets of the resurrected’ which is included in my most current self-published collection rocks have the softest shadows. It was a year in the making or unmaking, and is an entry-guided piece that started with the idea of a suicidal baby and came with so many rules that I abandoned them immediately in favor of repeating my obsessions. I think I failed the monster but not the creature.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Barton: As a child, I think, pretending to be asleep in the backseat of our family car while my brothers fought or did not fight, while my parents sang gospel songs, because there, or once there, I knew without knowing that dreams had no memory and that one can be, perpetually, a reverent fraud of the moment.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Barton: Watching movie trailers.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Barton: I recently had a chapbook published by Trainwreck Press called ‘Skin To Skin In An Unmarked Life’ that I’m happy John C. Goodman wanted to put on paper. It’s one of those small things that the seeing of wouldn’t fit in my eye.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
I can’t always find the year I believed in god
–from a series of poems called city
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
I don’t know if they’d know it, really, but poets Kazim Ali, Johannes Göransson, Camonghne Felix, Dylan Krieger, Molly McCully Brown. In terms of not fleeing your phobias, infatuations. Your excess. Not replacing exodus, nor doubling pilgrimage.
Barton Smock is the author of the chapbook Skin To Skin In An Unmarked Life (Trainwreck Press, 2021) and of the full-length Ghost Arson (Kung Fu Treachery Press, 2018). He lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and four children and writes often at kingsoftrain.com