Friday, November 4, 2005
Report: KEVIN KILLIAN @ UCSD
In all the time I've known Kevin Killian, I never really realized how subversive his work is until seeing/hearing him read in San Diego (Sandy Day Glo, Sandy Eggo). It is in my hometown, that poetry carries more weight, and not because this is where I grew up, escaped from, and prodigally returned to but because of the socio-political climate here. Having been in the Bay Area (Santa Cruz included) for nearly 10 years, I had become either immune to or had been cavalier in hearing "left-leaning" poetry. So, when, yesterday afternoon, Kevin Killian, whom I adore, read to a packed, black room--mostly full of young students (and most of those students, I gather, are from right-wing, conservative families)--his poems hit so much harder than before. Was it because I was aware of my surroundngs--San Diego is a major arm of the military-industrial complex--or was it because I noticed students all around me, squirming at the mentions of "you'll not return from Iraq" and "he had his hand on my cock," among many other homosexually and/or anti-war charged passages. I've always loved Kevin's poems, how subtly wrought they are while simultaneously seeming so loose, even, at times, off the cuff or snarky. I love that. But having heard them (ok, I've also got to address Kevin's presentation of his poems) and seen Kevin's almost flamboyant presentation of them--though he seemed more physically reserved than usual; fewer flourishes of the hands and gyrations of the hips, but they were still there--in such an environment, really exploded, for me, the depth and electricity of Kevin's work. My idea is that the more these kids are exposed to serious and creative people who don't conform to the Bushtopian ideal everpresent in San Diego, the more likely they are to be less like their parents. I do already see this change coming, San Diego has long been "that city on the verge of getting really hip" and I think, finally, it's beginning to let down its hair.