There Ain’t No Justiss (1943-2011)

Hard-smoking, hard-drinking, hard-living Florida poet Alan Justiss died on Valentine’s Day this year, leaving behind at least two ex-wives, two daughters, countless proteges of his tough-love artistic mentoring, and 50,000-100,000 unrevised poems in boxes. A group of people held a memorial for him on March 12 at a local theater, celebrating his role as the unofficial poet laureate of Jacksonville, FL.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Justiss was friends with Charles Bukowski, as he discusses in a 2007 article. Now that both men have passed on, there are no more poets in the United States who drink alcohol or smoke.

Oh, wait…

Shelton Hull, a local columnist now running for City Council, referred to Justiss as “A cross between a hobo and a Zen master,” elaborating on their relationship on his blog. Professional breaker and media mogul Troy Lukkarila explores his own admiration for the man on his tribute page. Justiss himself offers some thoughts in this video.

Wherever Justiss wound up after death, we hope it has plenty of poetry, cartons of fresh smokes, an open bar, and an attentive audience.

About poetsguide

A former altar boy and a former U.S. Army interrogator, respectively, John F. Buckley and Martin Ott were born and raised in Michigan, meeting each other at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor before separately migrating to California in the early 1990s to attend graduate schools, their friendship evolving into a writing collaboration – what they refer to as poetic volleyball. They both currently live in Southern California, John with his wife, Martin with his wife and two children. John teaches English composition at several local colleges, while Martin works as a marketing strategist for a global company. John still affects a strange piety; Martin still finds himself asking a lot of questions. Individually and together, their writing has appeared in over 150 periodicals and anthologies, garnering three Pushcart Prize nominations for Martin’s poems “India Ivy” and “When Bridges Fall” (available in his collection Children of Interrogation, which has been a finalist or semi-finalist in eighteen poetry prizes) and John’s “Poem for Christy’s Daughter” (available in his collection Kinks in the Hose). Martin has also optioned three screenplays. His chapbook Misery Loves was published on Red Dancefloor Press. John’s chapbook Breach Birth was published on Propaganda Press.
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