Justin Longacre

Justin Longacre

Poet, Teacher, Musician

March 24, 2016


Toledo School for the Arts




Tell us a little bit about some of your past projects:

I teach English and creative writing at Toledo School for the Arts and write my own poems and stories. I also play in a band called the Homeville Circle sometimes.

What are you currently working on?:

I am working on a collection of short stories about NW Ohio/SE Michigan during the recession but, you know, weird. People turn into animals, animals inhabit human spaces, neighborhoods disintegrate, everyone goes to work anyway.

I also have a bunch of songs sitting around that I need to record.

Living in Toledo is an advantage for your work because:

 My work is almost invariably about Toledo or set in Toledo or rendered in language and imagery drawn from Toledo. It’s difficult to imagine what my work would be like if I didn’t live here. 

One of your greatest successes :

Starting the creative writing program at TSA. Getting a poem pressed into the city sidewalk was pretty cool too.

What inspires you?

I tend to be inspired by the landscape and the social situation of this particular time and place. The transition between industrialism and post-industrialism. The way people around here talk. Urban/rural interfaces and transitions. Phil Levine. The sound of insects. The names of plants. Failure. My students. Jobs. Sherwood Anderson. Bowling alleys. Weather. Big sweaty breakfasts. Flannery O’Connor. Twilight Zone. Drones (oscillating fans, air conditioners, the sound of the expressway from far away). Charles Simic. Childe Ballads. Faulty memories. Buildings.

About your background:

I was born in California, raised in Toledo, attended Start high school and the University of Toledo. I have taught at TSA since 2006. I have a cool wife and two cool kids. Now I am back at UT for my MA in Literature.

A favorite quote you try to live by? 

“ . . . I would like

to sit down among them and read slowly

from The Book of Job until the windows

pale and the teacher rises out of a milky sea

of industrial scum, her gowns streaming

with light, her foolish words transformed

into song . . . “

             -  Philip Levine

What's your favorite local culture in Toledo?

Toledo has such a supportive arts community. All you have to do it try a little bit and this community will support you. It is very inclusive in my experience.

Toledo’s ‘best-kept secret’ is…

Toledo doesn’t have a best-kept secret, Toledo is the best-kept secret.

Your favorite place to chill locally is… 

The Attic on Adams. The Oliver House. The Black Kite.

Favorite natural space in Toledo:

The Toledo Botanical Garden. I love that place. It's like a museum but for stuff that is alive.

When not working hard, you can be found…

Feeling guilty.

If you could change the current landscape for creative progressive people in Toledo…

We probably have what we need in terms of infrastructure, now we just need to keep producing work. There should be more art than artists.

One person (living or deceased) you’d like to collaborate with: 

My friends.

An album, book or website you can’t live without:

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson 

Three words that best describe you and/or your work: 

Regular stuff, transfigured.  

Your 5 ‘desert island’ album picks:

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

Rural Psychedelia by Flying Saucer Attack

Revolver by The Beatles

A Love Supreme by John Coltrane

Live at the Fillmore East 2-11-1969 by The Grateful Dead

Biggest vice?

Wasting time on the internet.

I’d like to see _______ in Toledo.

 A mid-level concert venue for local bands and national touring bands. Or maybe just a local bookstore.

The last dream you recall:

I barely ever remember dreams. I once had a dream that I bit the throat out of a wolf at a library though. I pretty much haven't stopped talking about it since.

The last lyric that moved you:

 “Real truth about it is no one gets it right

Real truth about it is we're all supposed to try”

- Songs: Ohia

One movie character you identify with:

 Private Witt from Thin Red Line.

The best gift I ever received was…

My sons.

My most inspiring moment is/was:

The trick is to be inspired by the regular dumb stuff that happens all the time and see that it is weird and beautiful and not actually regular or dumb.

I want my last meal to be:

A peahen egg poached in a Corinthian helmet and laid gently on an open dictionary, the yolk pierced with the black minute hand of a train-station clock.


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