torsdag, juni 20, 2019

Kevin Killian (1952–2019)

The photos below (one with KK and Morten Søndergaard, another with me, selfie, the third from his reading at at Michael Woolworth’s atelier) are all taken by me in Paris in December 2017, where I attended the amazing Poets & Critics-seminar dedicated solely to the work of Kevin Killian. May he rest in peace. Andrew Durbin, who edited the KK-reader, wrote this commemoration.

6 kommentarer:

Martin Glaz Serup sagde ...

Jonathan Skinner put these notes from the Paris-seminar out on Facebook, I'll paste it in below, make it available for people who are not on FB or connected with JS:

one puts off doing this sort of thing and then suddenly it's too late. Kevin Killian, who would never have put it off, came to Paris in late 2017 with Dodie Bellamy, for a symposium on Kevin's work, organized and hosted by the brilliant, generous and indefatigable Poets & Critics team (Olivier Brossard, Vincent Broqua, Abigail Lang). here are some photos and notes on the event.

over the course of two days (18-19 December), separated by a reading at Atelier Michael Woolworth (featuring Kevin, Dodie, and Esther Salmona: video of Kevin's reading on YouTube:, Kevin (with the usual crucial input from Dodie) held forth on a range of topics covering his work as a poet, author, playwright, and critic (and at many times touching on Dodie's work).

Martin Glaz Serup sagde ...

Robert Glück (the back of whose head is visible in a few of the photos) was also in attendance, along with the likes of Lisa Robertson, Cole Swensen, Dell Olsen, David Herd, Daniel Katz, Jackqueline Frost, Andrew Durbin, Martin Glaz Serup, Jeremy Allan Hawkins, many others. some in the seminar knew Kevin and Dodie's work well, while many participants were discovering it (and Kevin and Dodie) for the first time.

Dodie & Kevin were very happy to be in Paris, surrounded by so much warm and intelligent interest. Vincent, Oliver, and Abigail put together a beautiful, pocket-sized bilingual edition of Kevin's "periodic table" poems, Les éléments/ The Elements (éditions joca seria), a book I now treasure.

the conversation was all over the place, as are my notes, which I still don't have time to organize into some sort of written account. but I've decided to go ahead and dump them here (only lightly edited), since there are so many gems and morsels, small avenues into Kevin's brilliant, many-hued literary and artistic life.

I didn't have time to write down many of the questions, but usually they can be inferred. I did make a recording of the entire conversation (as did Olivier). at some point I imagine that will be made available.

please -- those of you who no doubt know Kevin's work and life better -- feel free to offer (friendly) corrections/ additions in the Comments, and/or write to me for clarification on anything. some of the comments might be lacking in crucial context. also, though generally I am a close listener, these are notes, not a transcript, so should not be taken as definitive! apologies to any (including Kevin) who are mis (or un) represented. I can always go back to the recording for a second listen.

following the seminar, an epic John Ashbery tribute reading was held at Galerie Eof (organized by Olivier Brossard). Kevin and Dodie participated (along with yours truly, several other seminar participants, and a host of French poets, some titans among them). I've also posted the poster for that event and a photo of Kevin reading. if anyone remembers what Ashbery work Kevin read, please let us know in the Comments!

in the wake of the event, Kevin sent us all, with characteristic grace and charm, the following note:

"Thank you to those of you who invited me to Paris, and translated my poetry, and thank you to all of you who came and read and argued and commented and made me feel like a king! Thank you for your exquisite courtesy to Dodie as well. We came back to San Francisco on Wednesday, and though I went back to work later that day, it was as a new man, thoroughly envigorated and glowing. Now it is Saturday morning and I am free to stop and write to you all. Vincent, Abigail, Olivier, thanks for all the work you do! No matter what happens to me and Dodie, we agree, that from now on 'we’ll always have Paris.'"

Paris Poets & Critics Symposium with Kevin Killian & Dodie Bellamy

Université Paris 7 Denis Diderot
18-19 December 2017

Notes by Jonathan Skinner

Martin Glaz Serup sagde ...


Olivier Brossard: Introduction

33 people in attendance besides Kevin & Dodie

. . .

I abandoned being Dr. Kevin Killian

moved from Stony Brook to SF: “I’m not in Kansas anymore, Dodo”

success wasn’t everything

“Language” poetry Poets Theater

campy version of Poets Theater

Bob Glück’s workshop

Lewis Ellingham
handed over his Spicer research

wrote Poet Be Like God (over 8 years)

then moved to Dario Argento (seeing how Spicer moved into the canon as he wrote about him, thinking maybe he could do this with someone else)

then, kind of in an Oulipo way, turned to Kylie Minogue (if he could elevate someone with no talent by writing about them)

John Ashbery’s sign of approval

First novel, Shy, 1988

Takes place in Summer of 1974 (Watergate Year)

When you’re a young writer, you have to have someone who believes in you. You have to have someone in your corner.

How do you get the characters out of the room, how do you get them into the room. Or how do you get them out of their own minds, into the world. It’s a pain in the neck.

Next novel set day he was born, 1952.

First novels a series of retreats (from AIDS crisis, etc.)

Mostly it was me flying away from the realities of the moment . . .
it wasn’t until AIDS was over that I could really write about it.

Bob Glück: you could write essays.

His play “That” to Barrett Watten’s “This”

Glück on “model” engagement of SF institutions with AIDS crisis: there wasn’t a lot to protest, there was a lot to do.

Memorializing the people lost (“Stage Fright”)

everybody was writing AIDS poems then (Dodie)

Acker: have you ever seen the films of Dario Argento?

the attacker you can’t see the face of

“I saw something important that I can’t remember.”

this is just a book of memory. was it a political action? I don’t know . . .

John Dos Passos newsreels inside USA: why not have the news appear inside of your story?

and then the curtain begins to fall on a fabulous world . . .

1984 first friend dead, Reagan (re-)elected

hideous basement of terror in Argento’s Inferno

Martin Glaz Serup sagde ...

Vincent Broqua re Acker on gender as piracy and “abducting names”

learning in Glück’s workshop to use other people’s writing in one’s own pages

I never understood any fuss about appropriation ever

I have a big body of work and I’m always going back and raiding it

pressure to read something new—not to be a heritage artist like Stevie Nicks

I am that little boy in a provincial nightmare of a place who wanted like Madame Bovary to get to Paris
like Heathcliff with his face pressed to the window
to turn down the blinds and listen

accidentally plagiarizing David Steinberg in Tweaky Village (Wonder Books)
(included old poem he thought he’d written, “Five Year Plan”)
a poem singled out by Publishers Weekly review

outside of that, I believe that most of the other poems in this book are my poems

I was not interested in cultivating a large audience
I would rather have a number of small audiences, with just a few people, very different ones

met his doppelgänger, Kevin Killian, a software designer from Durham, NC

I might once again try writing a poem without a proper name in it

Jacqueline Frost: the indecent use of the proper name
(acquired through osmosis in the Bay Area)

novelists: I have 400 pages to write, and my deadline is coming up
(so I don’t have time to go out and have a drink)

I’ve killed five publishers: I was the last writer on five publishers’ lists

it’s not all about direct experience, it’s about history too
(writing about things that happened before one’s life)

a case of too severe a blurring between poetry and fiction

for me the voice, like Ginsberg, or Olson, the breath, that that’s the measure

I write thinking how is this going to sound when I read it aloud, whatever I write

I think of myself standing ten feet away

I never really learned anything about prosody

John Weiners’s collaboration with Andy Warhol

I’ve written 50 plays, 40 with other people

the same unknown paternity story again and again

Story about doing Anne Carson’s Decreation using Hefty bags

the rehearsal was the best part

acting in plays, it’s making stories, adding narrative to your play

ATA Neo Benshi (begin with Pacific Film Archives bringing an actual Benshi)

Tony and Lee Ann [will be] putting on Poets Theater festival in Cambridge

a way of bringing a crowd into poetry, so it’s not just one person speaking

a lot of collaboration with people, especially if they’re not writers

rewriting Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf with B.K. Stefans
recast with the Objectivists, and Ashbery the new man in town

play Wet Paint, provoked cease and desist order from Bruce Conner

turned Bruce Conner into Michael McClure instead

Martin Glaz Serup sagde ...

part of the Poets Theater thing: you are in public in a certain way

the fact that it doesn’t remain, the evanescence of the theater, it’s just like life


Oulipian A-Z Prompt: dinner scene chapter (“A-Z Story”) of Spread Eagle.
Sentences begin with words beginning with letters following letters of the alphabet.
If you get to Z, then first two words begin with letters following words of alphabet.
Great for writers block: sentences know what to write next. The key
is to do it so it’s not obvious.

Extended discussion of ekphrasis.
Cole: ekphrasis as response (where the work comes first) narrows the possibilities.

David Herd asks what the politics of a non-ekphrastic poetry might be:

fighting for the reappearance of the body, of the wound in the body

Dell Olsen, citing Kaplan Harris’s comment (in his essay) on Kevin watching the silver screen to learn about people’s jobs:
Truffaut on how much American film is about labor

as a theoretical mode?
way I was getting into theory as a boy.

Foregrounding the means of production?
Great performances emerging from barebones staging.

Vincent (Broqua) on how actors “represent” the reading of the poem when they read poetry,
“placing” their voice where the spectacular can enter—even when asked to read the poem
as flatly as possible.

Rock Horror Show: don’t dream it, be it.

Cole Swensen: fanship. Displacement of subject into another.

ATC forum: blind items
entertainment lawyers

“the blind item”


Martin Glaz Serup: what comes after New Narrative?

NN reacted to Language Poetry, who told us that narrative was corrupt,
that it was the tool of the dictatorship. The Master Narrative, etc.
But whose stories hadn’t been told yet?
It was gonna be a new narrative, something that was totally new.
What can I say? Nothing is really new.

New journalism of 50s/60s direct precursor of New Narrative?

In the 80s/90s we loved all our “language” poet friends, but we could see there was a problem:
the refusal to give credentials to a younger generation.

It was a brand name, an actual brand.

Lisa Robertson on reading feminist film criticism (Laura Mulvey, etc.)
as a “second generation” (i.e. 8 months later than the Marxist-toting guys,
like Jeff Derksen and Kevin Davies) Vancouver poet coming after “language” writing.

Martin Glaz Serup sagde ...

Involved with the body, and the idea of pleasure.

Importance of SF as a port city to New Narrative.

“From the litany of biology to the badlands of porn . . .”

They [the “language” poets] were so unpopular, no one would read with them
so they always read with one another.

They saw early on that capturing institutional power was where you could wield influence.

“language” poetry was a great source of intellectual vigor for us. But we could see the “language” poets, one by one, succumbing to New Narrative.

The Grand Piano . . . hello!? A little late to the party!

The longer it wore on, the more you could see them as people.

Dodie: every time “the body” appears in student writing, it’s totally abstract.

Dennis Cooper: AIDS ruined death.

(Exposed our writing for a shallow romanticism on death. Like death had existed
so we could have better sex.)

Dodie asking about scenes without an identifying aesthetic:
Jacqueline Frost: soft surrealism vs. soft-serve realism

Dan Katz (re fights in psychoanalysis about whether the body
needs to be in the room): when there’s writing, the body is never in the room.
Dodie: no, you’re there, you’re a piece of meat with a pen.

New Narrative ends in 97 partly because they felt things were changing,
with the advent of the Internet.

The original Internet things: war rooms and sex rooms.

Kevin always liked the Puns & Anagrams section of NY Times crossword puzzle

All time favorite author: Agatha Christie

She knew human nature better than Shakespeare

Stole lots of the plot of Shy from different Purdy novels

James Purdy: a book of sparklers

Bob Gluck’s book of pastiche poetry, Reader

Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Martin Duberman
(writing for Rolling Stone)

Tweaky Village about gentrification

New Narrative in the mainstream: Maggie Nelson
CNF? (Creative Non Fiction?)

John Cowper Powys novels
Weymouth Sands

Missing bit of recording (battery change)
about figuring out what the plants of San Francisco are
for a “gay” mural