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PoetrySnaps! featuring Simmons Buntin

Courtesy Simmons Buntin

In this week’s segment of KNAU's series PoetrySnaps!, Tucson-based writer Simmons Buntin shares with us his poem Indigo Bunting. It’s a celebration of sound, which is what led Buntin to poetry in the first place. Today, he talks about his original poetic muse.

Simmons Buntin:

Music. That's how I started out, writing lyrics for songs I didn't know how to play the instruments for but kind of heard in my head. And then, a couple of friends and I in high school tried to get a band together, and it didn't work. I wasn't as great at the music as I'd like to think I was at the lyrics.

In college I ended up rooming with someone who was really an actual musician, and we tried to do some stuff. That didn't take either, but the words stayed with me. You know, I was in high school in the 80s. I was both a fan of classic rock, so The Doors, The Who, a little Led Zeppelin perhaps. But I was also into kind of rockish new wave, so The Cars, The Police, a little bit of The Smiths later on. Kind of a mix of things. I don't know if there was a particular band that influenced me. I mean, if I look back now, perhaps some of The Police. I love the lyrics, especially off of Zenyatta Mondatta and some other early albums, Ghost in the Machine. But I don't think there was a particular band necessarily that was inspiring what I was writing.

Indigo Bunting

This is music, he said,
and his voice climbed
the thin ladder of air

like a cat chases moths,
tumbled like
the river desperate

in flood—his chest filling
with the thick
liquid of song. This

is music: not so much
the silver-chorded calls
or the silent intervals

of indigo flash
between yellowgreen limbs,
but the complete cessation:

the wind, the river, the earth’s
core groaning
among its fiery teeth

to hear this simple song.

About the poet:

Simmons Buntin is a Tucson-based writer and the director of marketing and communications for the University of Arizona's College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture. Buntin’s poetry, essays, and technical articles have appeared in publications including Edible Baja Arizona, Kyoto Journal and the Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society. His accolades include the Academy of American Poets Prize, Colorado Artist’s Fellowship for Poetry, and grants from the U.S. Forest Service and Arizona Commission on the Arts.

About the host:

Steven Law is a poet, journalist and educator based in Page, Arizona. He is the author of a collection of poems called Polished.

About the music:

Original music by Flagstaff-based band Pilcrowe.

PoetrySnaps! is produced by KNAU, Arizona Public Radio and runs the first and third Friday of each month.

Steven Law was the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps!
Gillian Ferris was the News Director and Managing Editor for KNAU.