Reading and Q & A with Michael Keenan & John Duvernoy
On Tuesday, October 21st at 7pm, we invite you to join us for a poetry event and reading with Michael Keenan and Seattle poet, John Duvernoy. Keenan is launching his new work, Translations On Waking In An Italian Cemetery and Duvernoy will read from his new book of poems, Something In The Way // Obstruction Blues.
The poems in Keenan’s Translations On Waking In An Italian Cemetery illuminate that ‘other world, inside this one.’ Wearing line breaks to score your heart beat by, these poems limn the phantasmagoric backstreets till dawn, never settling for the comfort of the nihilist’s pose.
Something In The Way is an aboriginal blues, a gut map, where ecstatic clarity shares a bed with gall stone blindness. Proceeding by feints and jabs, deadpan misdirection undercutting stark confession, the pages share a core vulnerability, a magnetic bruise. These are loner’s poems, vying to connect. Sunk deep in the mud of childhood, dragged by an erotic comb with missing teeth, what passes through unexamined, re-emerges in adulthood, wearing masks.
Looking ahead to this event, we asked the poets a few questions…
How did you come to write Translations On Waking In An Italian Cemetery?
Michael Keenan: Well, I moved to New Orleans suddenly after finishing graduate school and was struck with a Rilke-like inspiration after living on Bourbon Street for only a few days, and ended up writing the majority of the book in only a few weeks, mostly late at night in Café Du Monde.
How did you come to write Something In The Way//Obstruction Blues?
John Duvernoy: Well, I couldn’t find anyone else to do it. Which is not merely flip, but true – this is all I can really do. I spent many years making this book, layering it and scraping it away – the oldest lines or phrases go back to the late 90’s.
What are you currently reading?
MK: I’ve been reading around in a number of texts, but haven’t felt the urge to commit to any of them. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s The Joy of Living continues to grab me on the train, at least for a few pages, before I inevitably leap back into English Romantic Poetry and Prose edited by Russel Noyes, a book I found at my parents’ house in Florida over the summer which has my father’s name written in the top right-hand corner of the first page. I’ve also been reading Lorca poems with poet Carlos Lara, a friend of mine and John Duvernoy, while we sip coca cola and recline in my car outside of Mamoun’s on St. Marks. This is, in my opinion, the best way to read Lorca.
JD: I had been weaving in and out of a big stack: Zurita’s selection of Latin American poets Pinholes in the Night, Will Alexander’s essays Singing in Magnetic Hoofbeat, Lorca’s Collected, and Forrest Gander’s upcoming second novel The Trace – but then Knaussgaard got a hold on me and it’s been all Ove ever since.
Do you have a personal favorite book of all time? If so, can you share it and tell us why?
MK: The Catcher in the Rye. I don’t identify with this book in the same way I did as a younger man, but I still think it’s a masterpiece, and I’m still in love with it. And, like John, I always return to Frank Stanford’s The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You.
JD: Favorite of the past year: probably Fred Moten’s The Feel Trio. I don’t know anything about “of all time” but a book I continue to go back to, over many years, is The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You by Frank Stanford.
Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to the publication of?
MK: Carlos Lara’s The Green Record, for sure, which contains the most electrifying use of language I’ve read in the last decade.
JD: Volume 4 of Knaussgaard’s struggle, David Gates’ story collection A Hand Reached Down To Guide Me, CD Wright’s beech tree project, Carlos Lara’s The Green Record, John Murray’s The Peregrine Children.
What’s next? Any upcoming book projects in the works?
MK: I’m working slowly with poems I wrote over the summer which are dark green in color and take place, tangentially, at least, on the various rooftops of horse stables I drive by on a daily basis. The working title of this new manuscript is Just After Midnight At The Hypnagogic Diner, and there are only two characters, but that’s all I should say for now.
JD: I am trawling around a book-length piece called ‘you were never seen far from your coat’, chumming the waters with some pages of it in the upcoming issue of Cal Bedient’s Lana Turner Journal.