John Mitchel is from Rossville, Indiana, a wide spot on a pointless road. He graduated from Purdue University in May 2012 with a Bachelors in English Creative Writing and Professional Writing with an emphasis on publication. At Purdue he minored in Jewish studies despite his entirely Christian heritage. He wanted “something marketable” when paired with his creative writing passion.

 John writes poetry almost exclusively despite a couple of failed attempts at fiction. He waived a white flag a few years back and swore to never write another piece of prose, but has recently found himself slipping back into the old habit.

John recently finished reading Charles Bukowski’s book Sifting through the Madness for the Line the Word and the Way, a posthumous volume. He highly recommends any and all books written by Charles Bukowski and insists that “Bukowski was the greatest writer of the English language with a far greater understanding of the human condition than all others.”

When asked about the five guests of his dream dinner party, John dryly responded “the past four Israeli krav maga champions and Adolf Hitler to watch the century’s most impressive beat down” and then laughed at the numerous uncomfortable looks on the faces of his peers. He followed it up with admitting he would like to have a meal with T.S. Eliot, Alan Moore, Muhammad Ali, August Wilson, and Robin Williams. He admitted to leaving Charles Bukowski out of this party because he would “probably drink all the booze” and might “severely dislike” John “as a person which would be awkward and stuff.”

John has a myriad of influences on his work. The most defining would of course be Charles Bukowski, but he also has been influenced by T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemmingway, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, and Charles Simic. As for visual artists, he really enjoys the words of Auguste Rodin and the street artist Banksy.

 John has several literary works that sit on top of the pile of things he has read, but his favorite poem is Running on Empty by Charles Bukowski which ends with the haunting lines

 what you do see are

frogs and dandelions

dead sparrows in the road

lovers lost in the rain

the hangman swinging in the wind.

 now you see

 John has been repeatedly asked why he began writing and to date has never given a straight answer. He originally told people “My parents beat me with a sock full of nickels and then locked me in the basement for weeks on end where I scratched poems on the walls with a piece of flint to pass the time.” Lately he has taken to telling people he writes poetry because “substance abuse and misery seemed like a good career option,” and again laughs at people’s shock and incredible discomfort. Needless to say, the fact remains that he does write and continues to work on his craft and improve. He has an odd, vaguely insane writing process wherein he sits in a soundless, perfectly dark room and visualizes words in the back of his mind. He then reorders them till he is satisfied with his initial draft before putting it on paper. Using this system he argues that he will only remember the important details from his poems and will forget the bad ones….hopefully.

John’s favorite musician is Tom Waits. He recently purchased seven Waits albums and has been playing them on a loop while he works on new poems. He finds something ingenious in Waits’ rough voice and lyrical brilliance. John also enjoys Andrea Bocelli’s opera albums as well as the band Cake.

John does not watch a great many movies, but loves Watchmen in particular. He finds it to be a great background to have going while he revises work.

John is a simple man of few hobbies. He particularly enjoys weightlifting and exercise in general. He also does his share of martial arts training. He collects and occasionally restores vintage gaming consoles on his off days and finds the modern three dimension graphics of video games marginally obnoxious.

 John’s end goal as a writer is to teach. Like most writers he would like to publish some of his work, but his primary desire is to help future generations of writers get off the ground and to pass along some of the wisdom and encouragement he has received from his professors both in graduate school and at his alma mater, Purdue.


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