Thursday, December 11, 2014

November 23: Kevin Killian Live!

On 11/23 Kevin Killian, one of the original "New Narrative" writers, dropped by the studio to share his Tweaky Village with us, a recent prize-winning collection (The Wonder Prize) of poetry published by Wonder books. Tweaky Village contains 7 sections whose serial poems were written during the recession, the spiraling economy, and President Obama's ascendancy to power.

Kevin began with "Speak Right," the book's final piece, set on the "enchanted forest floor at Barbara Gladstone" (gallery), reading the poem and interrupting himself to share asides about the poem (i.e. written while he was experiencing a "stroke-like" condition). "Words fall down" or "words drop out" of the poem as a result; "Frankenstein" even drops into the poem for a visit! Kevin calls his collection "an anti-gentrification rant" or a "war between bohemians and plutocrats." Tweaky Village takes its name after S.F.'s Castro district and Kevin employs the use of appropriation (from George Kuchar films, but also from a chorus line in a Kylie Minogue song, "Wow Wow Wow Wow"--the title of the chapbook/section in the book), repetition, and the series poem--contents of one poem enter into the next quite seamlessly. Kevin is the Master of Segues!

Next, we performed a poem (scene) from the 1956 film Autumn Leaves with Kevin playing Joan Crawford, naturally. We discussed the effects of screenplay dialogue in poetry; and then Kevin jumped into his history as a "New Narrative" writer, when he first took a course taught by Robert Gl├╝ck in the early '80's. Named by Steve Abbott, the new narrative movement sought to place a poem in "non-objective language," using the insights of contemporary poetry (at the time, Language Poetry). A "radical reclaiming" of the personal narrative (esp. of Queer voices) which celebrated little distinction between the poem, the screenplay, or the novel (all in one "mass expression") was/is the result.

After reading "I Lost Me to Meth," which Kevin explained is an "informercial" poem whose title comes from the old anti-drug billboard slogan, we moved into Jack Spicer's poetics and Kevin gave us his take on opening up the mind to reception like a "radio," picking up on the voices of the living and the dead. Poetry, indeed, is one way of "bringing back the dead." Kevin next shared, "Fetish Photography," a photograph installation and poem was installed in NYC (2012) that incorporates images of mostly male nudes with poems printed on wax paper placed over the images. Toward the end of our show, Kevin confessed that he has written over 2500 Amazon reviews, which spawned from a period of illness (inspired to do so by Dody Bellamy) in an attempt to get back into writing and to "find a new vocabulary." One just has to Google "Kevin Killian" and "Amazon" to enjoy some of these reviews--and to find out more on Kevin and his writing! Click here to listen.

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