Reporting with deep sadness today: Kevin Killian has passed away. His selected plays, Stage Fright, was launched just under a month ago at The Stud in San Francisco. I flew out flew out from Chicago to see Kevin and the performance of “Box of Rain” he (and the great Maxe Crandall) put on there. Kevin was respected, admired, and even beloved by so many that there is just a little to add to the various tributes already coursing through social media. My report on the book launch forms the last section of an essay that will close out my next book, so wait for it. Meanwhile, look around to all of these tributes and count the many profoundly talented and compassionate people who loved him, and that will tell you how extraordinary this man was. His influence will resonate for a very, very long time.
On his poetry:
[Jack Spicer’s] theories of dictation have also been important to me and, even though they have been under question, I still imagine that that is exactly the way I write poetry myself. I just tune down all the other noises until the voice of the “other” can be heard—the voice of what Spicer calls the “invisible world.” Spicer compared the poet to a radio through which transmissions find an audience, but the origin of these messages remains unknown. Or sometimes he said that one’s own experiences and memories and talents and education might well be thought of as “furniture” in the attic of one’s mind and yet the ghosts seek to write poetry by using that furniture, shoving it about till it means something, or are any rate conveys something. Yes, I do happen to know heaps about Kylie Minogue, but will that see me in good stead? Will the Martians be able to mash up what I know to get any poetry out of me? You be the judge. [read the entire interview here]
On his poets theater:
It’s all about the people who aren’t actors, who played in our plays. Just regular artists and writers and poets. We can’t memorize the plays, so we have to get up there with the script in our hands. And somehow that allows us all to act, act, act in a much better way than if we had been in the actor’s studio. [read the entire interview here]
Kevin Killian, Box of Rain, still from performance, Second Annual Festival of Poets Theater, Links Hall, Chicago 2016.
See also, The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater: 1945-1985, co-edited by Kevin Killian and David Brazil.