|Occupation||Poet, author, editor, playwright|
Kevin Killian (born 1952) is an American poet, author, and playwright of primarily LGBT literature. He is also a highly regarded editor. My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, which he co-edited with Peter Gizzi, won the American Book Award for poetry in 2009. His novel, Impossible Princess, won the 2010 Lambda Literary Award as the best gay erotic fiction work of 2009.
Life and career
He was raised Roman Catholic. He attended a Roman Catholic parochial school run by Franciscan monks, where he suffered what he has described as routine abuse. He discussed these experiences in an essay in the edited work Wrestling With the Angel, which describes 21 gay men's experiences with religion. He was also the New York City spelling bee champion. He attended graduate school at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (SUNY-Stony Brook) in the 1970s, and moved to San Francisco in 1980. Although he is gay and Dodie Bellamy is a lesbian, the couple married and have an active heterosexual sex life. Bellamy has written publicly about their marriage and sex life, and both individuals have discussed the large size of Killian's penis in their writing. Killian admired the work of JT LeRoy (later to be revealed as the pen name and persona of author Laura Albert), and held public readings of LeRoy's work in 2000.
As a beginning novelist, he tied for first place in the "Hamming Up Hammett" Dashiell Hammett bad writing contest in San Francisco in 1988. Author Dodie Bellamy featured him as a partially fictional character in her vampire novel, The Letters of Mina Harker. His poetry has appeared in the anthology The Best American Poetry 1988, the magazine Discontents, and the anthology Good Times: Bad Trips. He once based an entire volume of poetry on the work of horror film director Dario Argento (motivated to do so as a response to the AIDS epidemic). He also helped author Alvin Orloff polish chapters of his novel Gutterboys. Noted author Edmund White, writing in The New York Times, described his work as "a kind of mandarin American casualness that is peculiar to ... West Coast writers ... a school of refined but deceptively offhand stylists." The Village Voice called My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, which he co-edited with Peter Gizzi, "impeccably edited". The work was also highly praised by The New York Times.
Poets Theater and retrospective work
Killian also has some acting experience. His interest in theatre emerged in the early 1980s when he saw experimental plays by Carla Harryman. Harryman and Tom Mandel subsequently cast him in their play, Fist of the Colossus. He co-founded the Poets Theater in San Francisco, and has acted in as well as written pieces for staging by the group. As of 2001, he had written 31 plays. He co-authored the performance art piece The Red and the Green in 2005 with cinemtographer Karla Milosevich. In 2009, Killian and David Brazil co-edited a collection of Poets Theater pieces, The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theatre: 1945-1985.
Killian is also active in bringing attention to important LGBTQ artists and writers of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. He has held poetry readings of a wide number of influential poets and writers, and participated in a number of panels, art installations, retrospectives, and memorials. For example, in 2008 he was a featured speaker at a University of Maine "Poetry of the 1970s" conference. He and artist Colter Jacobsen also helped organize a major tribute to the Kiki Gallery ("Kiki: The Proof Is in the Pudding"), a highly influential art gallery in San Francisco in the 1980s which featured the work of LGBTQ artists.
Story and poetry collections
- Little Men (Hard Press, 1996)
- Argento Series (Krupskaya, 2001)
- I Cry Like a Baby (Painted Leaf Press, 2001)
- Action Kylie (ingirumimusnocteetconsumimurigni, 2008)
- Impossible Princess (City Lights Publishers, 2009)
- Tweaky Village (Wonder, 2014)
- Shy (The Crossing Press, 1989)
- Bedrooms Have Windows (Amethyst Press, 1989)
- Arctic Summer (Masquerade Books, 1997)
- Spread Eagle (Alyson Books, 2010)
- Poet Be Like God (co-written with Lewis Ellingham; Wesleyan University Press, 1998)
- The Wild Creatures by Sam D'Allesandro (Suspect Thoughts Press, 2005)
- My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer (co-edited with Peter Gizzi; Wesleyan University Press, 2008)
- The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater: 1945-1985 (co-edited with David Brazil; Kenning Editions, 2010)
- Stone Marmalade (co-written with Leslie Scalapino; Singing Horse Press, 1996)
- Often (co-written with Barbara Guest; Kenning Editions, 2001)
- Island of Lost Souls (Nomados, 2004)
- Bellamy, Dodie. "My Mixed Marriage." The Village Voice. June 27, 2000.
- David Bergman. "Do We Need A Gay Literature?" The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide. January–February 2010, p. 25; "Stars and Rainbows." San Francisco Chronicle. June 22, 2001, p. 5.
- "The Best Books of 2008." The Village Voice. December 10, 2008.
- American Booksellers Association (2013). "The American Book Awards / Before Columbus Foundation [1980–2012]". BookWeb. Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013. "2009 [...] Gizzi and Kevin Killian (Wesleyan University Press)"
- Valenzuela, Tony. "Winners of 22nd Annual Lambda Literary Awards." Lambda Literary Foundation. May 28, 2010. Accessed 2010-05-28.
- Pohl, R.D. "Poets Theater at Burchfield Penney Art Center." Buffalo News. April 2, 2009.
- Sullivan, Gary. "Kevin Killian: Interview." readme. Spring/Summer 2001. Accessed 2010-05-29.
- Wiegand, David and Holt, Patricia. "Books in Brief." San Francisco Chronicle. June 18, 1995.
- Wrestling With the Angel: Faith and Religion in the Lives of Gay Men. Brian Bouldrey, ed. Reprint ed. New York: Riverhead Trade, 1996.
- Carroll, Jon. "Jon Carroll." San Francisco Chronicle. May 22, 2008.
- Bradshaw, Joseph. "Reviving Jack Spicer: An Interview with Kevin Killian." Rain Taxi. Winter 2008. Accessed 2010-05-29.
- Tudor, Silke. "Night Crawler." SF Weekly. May 10, 2000; Chonin, Neva. "An Enigmatic Writer Depicts Secret Worlds." San Francisco Chronicle. June 26, 2000.
- "Would-Be Writers With Style, Dash Hammett Up In Contest." Toledo Blade. November 1, 1988.
- Benderson, Bruce. "Book Review: The Letters of Mina Harker." The Village Voice. April 14, 1998.
- Gilbert, Matthew. "Book Review: The Best American Poetry 1988." Boston Globe. January 27, 1989; Harmanci, Reyhan. "Flip That Bad Trip." San Francisco Chronicle. September 13, 2007.
- Dark, Jane. "Fever Pitch." The Village Voice. August 13, 2002.
- Ford, Dave. "Author Hangs Onto His Mad Cap As He Captures '80s Gay Scene in 'Gutterboys'." San Francisco Chronicle. August 13, 2004.
- White, Edmund. "Sex and the City." The New York Times. February 21, 1999.
- Garner, Dwight. "Sometimes Love Lives Alongside Loneliness." New York Times. December 24, 2008.
- McMurtrie, John. "Fall Preview." San Francisco Chronicle. September 6, 2009.
- Schwartz, Stephen. "Alternative S.F. Bookstore Hits Tough Times." San Francisco Chronicle. August 27, 1992.
- Feinstein, Lea. "Twenty-Five Artists, Five Spaces, Five Weeks, and a Multitude of Visions." SF Weekly. July 26, 2006.
- Cook, David. "The Poets Theater Jubilee Brings Verse to the Stage." SF Weekly. January 23, 2002.
- "Angel Street." The Oregonian. September 2, 2005.
- Burnham, Emily. "Words Processing." Bangor Daily News. June 7, 2008.
- Vogel, Tracy. "The Anger and the Ecstasy of Kiki Revisited." SF Weekly. July 9, 2008.