John Sierpinski


Oyster River Pages: Who are the writers who have made you who you are? 
John Sierpinski: Influences on my writing have included the following: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Rita Dove, Maya Angelo, Tony Hoagland, Raymond Carver, Tim O' Brian, Tess Gallager, Sherman Alexie, William Wordsworth (stood at his grave in the little churchyard in the Lake District of England,) Gary Snyder, Michael Ryan, Czeslaw Milosz to name a few.

ORP: What are the lenses that shape your worldview? 
JS: Poetry readings, studying poetry and the solitude (sometimes lonely and hurtful) that writing demands.

ORP: What’s the most important thing you’ve read/seen lately? 
JS: Ken Burn's "Vietnam," Tim O' Brian's "The Things That They Carried," the "troubles" of Ireland and "Short Story Masterpieces."

ORP: What’s your least favorite word?
JS: Cacophony: it's overused like someone found it in the dictionary and sprinkled it in all this poetry like pepper.

ORP: What’s your favorite thing that you’ve created? (line, image, story, etc.) 
JS: The Saturday morning image of a sunny marina, the cold gray waves of the Pacific Ocean on a moonless night. 

ORP: What do you want to read/see more of in the world? 
JS: I want to see people coming together.  I'm growing so tired of seeing "us and them."  I want to fall out of that delusional safety web.

ORP: How do you pay it forward? 
JS: I help alcoholics and addicts recover.  I support various charities: The Academy of American Poetry, the Humane Society in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and of course Public Television, and radio.

ORP: What is the space that has shaped you the most? 
JS: The spaces: The north woods of Wisconsin, the coast of California as well as its desserts, the Seine through Paris, the Lake District of England, Athens, my cluttered office with two south facing windows.

ORP: You’ve just written your autobiography. What’s the title?
JS: "Sucker Hole."  It's true, the title of my first finished, loosely paginated semi-autobiography in  poems.  A sucker hole is defined as a patch of blue in an otherwise gray, rainy sky.  The sun is a muted spotlight that sucks you in before a wave of gray swallows it and it is gone to more gray and rain.


John Sierpinski has published poetry widely in literary magazines from Backstreet Quarterly and California Quarterly to North Coast Review and Spectrum as well as many others.  His work is also in three anthologies.  He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2013.  He is currently sending out a book length collection of his poetry.  He lives in Plymouth, Wisconsin with his wife Lynn. Find his poetry here.

Abby Michelini