Meet John Burgess; writer- poet, daytime PR man

Could I love her more if she wore dark glasses &

A scarf like Jackie O? she chain-smoked, spit &

Swore, shot back whiskey, bucked like a bronco.

-John Burgess; Punk Poems

Freemont resident, John Burgess recently released "Punk Poems,"a collection of original poetry.

Several poems remind me of a blend of William Carlos Williams and Jack Kerouak given a modern burst of passionate energy. The collection published by Ravenna Press this past August is a culmination of several years' work for John.

By day he handles corporate communications for PEMCO, but by night, he's very active within poetry circles.

He's been on the board of the Washington Poets Association for several years; he's been one of the hosts of Poets West's weekly open mic readings now held at Epilogue Books in Ballard; and recently he shared the spotlight with Sam Hamill, poet, editor, Poets Against War founder, at a special evening of poetry and conversation held as a benefit and fundraiser for the Washington Poets Association Burning Word Festival and Fare Start (FARESTART.ORG).

He will next read with other local and visting poets at the Frye Art Museum at 2 p.m. Dec. 4. It's a free event and an opportunity to see another compelling performance of John's excellent poetry.

John Burgess was born at the east end of Lake Ontario in Watertown, NewYork, April 17th, 1958. At age 5 he moved to a 100 acre farm outside Port Gibson, N.Y. Unfortunately when John was 10, his 33-year-old father died of a heart attack. His great aunts paid off the farm mortgage and his mom raised her three children as a single parent before it was common or fashionable to do so. Eventually John got a two-year journalism degree from State University of New York (SUNY) at Morrisville.

He had the desire to get paid for writing and journalism seemed to be the best way to do that. His Uncle Ron invited John to spend the summer in Montana working hard as part of a survey crew. John enjoyed the work, and he was also enjoying making new friends, drinking and cavorting a bit too much and being the young man embarking on life's adventure.

John went back to college, this time at Montana State University, and edited the award winning student newspaper. He met his wife Patsy and after the birth of son Jack in 1983 he wound up getting a job at the Island Sounder on Orcas Island. Then he worked for Fishing and Hunting News in Seattle. In 1985 their daughter Aya was born.

But the adventure was just beginning. In 1987 John responded to an ad in the Seattle Times that read: "Teach in Japan." For nearly three years John and his family lived and worked in Japan. John became a ranked Japanese calligraphy artist.

John had been writing poetry since he was a teenager but only got serious about it shortly after returning to Seattle in 1990. A few years later he first got up and began reciting poetry in public. John almost self-published a chap book of his poems, but then decided to send several poems to Ravenna Press editor Kathryn Rantala. She had published some of John's poems in her literary magazine Snow Monkey and agreed to look at a manuscript of John's poems.

She liked John's work but wanted him to experiment a bit and try a few things out, create much shorter poems.

John tried it out and was happy with the results. It resulted in the publication in August 2005 of "Punk Poems."

You too punk will age˜too soon

Blemishes which neon conceals

Will glare at noon˜like stares

A man in heels gets, just try

To hide desires dragged out

Midday˜you too will suit up

Dress for day jobs, grow way

Too fat, too entrenched, too taxed

Way too satisfied

Fit to be tied.

-John Burgess;

Punk Poems

*For a listing of several poetry venues and open mic poetry readings in Seattle and the Northwest (including Epilogue Books in Ballard) go to

The Washington Poets Association website is at

Author/Poet Christopher J. Jarmick host a monthly poetry reading at the Bookworm Exchange in Columbia City the third Friday of the month at 4860 Rainier Ave. He is co-writer of the suspense thriller "The Glass Cocoon." He is vice president of the Washington Poets Association, and the President of PEN Washington[[In-content Ad]]