Wil Gibson by Vanessa Vrtiak


You have a book out with Great Weather for MEDIA, tell me about it.

I am very proud of this book. It is a memoir of sorts. Mostly stories and poems about my childhood and growing up poor, but also stories and poems about my life into adulthood. Dealing with addiction, dealing with epilepsy, dealing with the death of loved ones, remembering the path that got me here. Really though, I say fuck a lot and I try not to say too many dumb things.


Sounds like a downer, is that the case?

Well, I’m not a very funny. I can tell stories that have funny moments, but I myself am not a very funny person. I love to laugh, and am a stand-up comedy nerd, but I’m not very funny, no. I prefer dark humor and there are few more laugh worthy moments than running away from a burning meth lab and realizing that you will not be burning up with the trailer house. I may just have a weird sense of humor.


What are you reading right now?

About to start I wear the black hat by Chuck Klosterman, but am reading Amie Zimmerman’s chapbook, and everything on Drunk in a Midnight Choir.


You proudly call yourself white trash. Is that a reactionary thing to being called such names, or is that a political stance?



Which is it?

I have been called many things. Hillbilly, Heeb, Redneck, Wigger, Wedo, White Boy Willie, Jew, White Trash Willie, Kyke, Welfare Willie, etc. I am open to admitting that some or all of these might be true, but I am also a bitter about being called them. I don’t like being bitter, so I wear my scarlet letters proudly. I mean, my dad has a mullet and a Hulk Hogan mustache. He isn’t being ironic, he’s just kind of putz. I like to embrace my inner putz too. Plus it’s fun to see reactions to a poor Jew from the Midwest and South. Poor Jews are looked at weird. It confuses people like a chicken coop in the city, an is that even allowed? kinda thing.


That kind of upbringing seems like a difficult way to become a poet, what was it that made poetry and writing your path?

Well, my first reaction is to go on a rant about how Rich People have better resources and access to education and that leads directly to the career you choose (or most likely gets chosen for you), or your path in life. I have seen so much wasted potential in trailer parks, project houses, and poor farming communities. Those are the people the rest of the country ignores. The ones who suffer for the Rich People. I guess that is a relative term if there ever was one. Anyone who hasn’t had to wonder where their next meal was going to come from, or been homeless, or had to break the law to eat or stay warm, is a Rich Person to me. I’m the richest person in my family because I have a bank account, and they all think I’m famous because my name is on a book. And I know that Rich People don’t get some of my writing because they’ve never been through it, but I try to write these real life things into something even a Rich Person would understand. That was a joke…kinda. See? My sense of humor is weird.


Harvest the Dirt, Wil Gibson, front cover

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WIL GIBSON was born from a good idea and a bottle of bourbon and raised in some of the poorest communities northern Illinois and eastern Arkansas have to offer. His publications include Harvest The Dirt (great weather for MEDIA, 2015), Home and Other Places (Moon Pie Press), A Couple’s Guide To Panic Attacks w/ Jen Jacques (Sargent Press) and a March 2016 release from Swimming With Elephants Press. Poems also appear in online and print journals such as Midwestern Gothic, Radius, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, and Electric Cereal. Wil has performed with or opened for Regie Gibson (no relation), Charlie Neville, Brother Ali, mybrightestdiamond, Toki Wright, Patricia Smith, and Kurtis Blow (among others) in well over a hundred dive bars, high schools, colleges, poetry slams, libraries, living rooms, restaurants, prisons, coffee houses, and churches from Bellingham, Washington to Boston, Massachusetts and beyond. In addition, he was runner up at the 2010 and 2011 Arkansas Grand Slam, audience favorite 2010 Arkansas Grand Slam, three time (2008-2010) Portland, Maine/Port Veritas Grand Slam Champion, one time (2010) New Hampshire/Slam Free or Die Grand Slam Champion, one time (2015) Humboldt County Grand Slam Champion, has won the chance to represent Portland, Maine 6 times (2008-2012, 2014) and Humboldt County, California once (2015) at the National Poetry Slam, including the 2011 Portland team that made semifinals, and coached 3 (2008, 2012-2013) NPS teams. Wil likes people and dogs a lot. He would like to pet your dog, and maybe talk to you a few minutes about lighthouses or random historical facts.

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