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SPD’s “staff picks” section features this recommendation of Kevin Killian’s Stage Fright, by the inimitable Trisha Low:

I think that people tend to have a lot of preconceived notions when it comes to Poet’s Theater – poets themselves especially because poets are Judgmental and there’s something about the sense of amateurism that people balk at. I always find this funny because there’s literally no other genre in which someone is allowed to make a mistake and then smooth it over by being like ‘well that’s what i meant to do, I mean I found the mistake interesting…’ – only in Poetry, I guess.

But Poetry aside, when all is said and done, STAGE FRIGHT demonstrates, at its core, that Poet’s Theater is far from a theater of miscommuniques, mistakes, or infelicitous acts of speech. Rather, it demonstrates the limitations of genre itself, which is also to say, that in its expansive acts of unreality, its practice of exceeding its form, Poet’s Theater is about inhabiting new worlds, new situations – as a different act of being. Not simply for the purposes of political gain, or bettering the world, but simply for the pure enjoyment of it.

Joy is something that is especially difficult to figure in moments like ours, but how can you not feel it when you put those persons most prone to absurdity and imagination in the same physical space just simply to have fun? How can you not feel it when you find some version of Isabella Rossellini rubbing up against Tippi Hedrun and Melanie Griffith? How can you not feel it when we, as Kevin writes, “act too, inhabit other realities than [our] own… as if the magical hills of San Francisco didn’t already give us all the permission we needed, to become someone else, even just for one night.’

Kevin himself, with the sparkle in his eye and his Chloe Sevigny photo face was the master of this – a ringleader of mischief, and radical instigator of the joy we most need in order to find the strength to do the real work, the important political work – the joy itself, of being. This collection is a beautiful testament to the radical possibilities of this joy. So drink a beer, put on a record, and go crazy. Sometimes, it feels as though there’s little we can do, but this, we can do together, on the collapsing stage of our degenerate world. Let’s do it.

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