Sam Pierstorff isn't afraid to tackle offbeat subjects in his poetry.
The Modesto Junior College English instructor's new poetry book, "Growing Up in Someone Else's Shoes" (World Parade Press, $12.95), covers vasectomies, breast implants, ultrasounds and prostitution.
The son of a Syrian mother and an American father, he also writes about his Muslim faith and his criticisms of popular culture.
Pierstorff, 34, describes his poems as "a little edgy, a little funny, a little witty and a little subversive."
A former Modesto poet laureate, Pierstorff probably is best known for founding and running the monthly "Slam on Rye" poetry slam at Prospect Theater Project and co-founding the annual invitational "Ill List" poetry slam at the State Theatre. In both events, poets compete for cash prizes by performing their poems in front of audiences.
Pierstorff also founded Quercus Review, MJC's literary magazine.
Paul Tayyar, executive director of Huntington Beach-based World Parade Books, said he selected Pierstorff to publish from hundreds of poets because his writing is so accessible.
"He has a style that I think represents the best of American poetry," Tayyar said. "It's very conversational. So much poetry these days is written by academics for academics. Sam speaks to a larger audience. There's no pretention about his work."
Pierstorff said he was a terrible reader as a child and didn't read his first novel until he was a junior in high school. His father introduced him to the poetry of Charles Bukowski and Billy Collins, but Pierstorff didn't start writing poetry himself until his sophomore year in college.
He said he was drawn to poetry because it didn't have many words and it fit his short attention span. Over the years, he's had his poems published in more than 200 magazines.
He said his goal is to engage and entertain readers and not make them think they have to spend hours looking for hidden meanings.
"I would like people to learn to read poetry the way they read fiction," Pierstorff said. "Read it, enjoy it and turn the page."
The father of three young children with his wife, Ruhi, Pierstorff is able to write only by keeping to a disciplined schedule. His free time is usually between 4 and 6 a.m. or 10 p.m. and midnight. He is thrilled that he was finally able to get a poetry book published.
"It feels exciting, it feels accomplished, it feels like a period at the end of a 10-year sentence," he said.