Kevin Killian

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Kevin Killian
Killian Kevin by Daniel Nicoletta.jpeg
Born 1952
Occupation Poet, author, editor, playwright
Genre LGBT literature

Kevin Killian (born 1952)[1] is an American poet, author, editor, and playwright of primarily LGBT literature.[2][3] 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.[4] His novel, Impossible Princess, won the 2010 Lambda Literary Award as the best gay erotic fiction work of 2009.[5]

Killian is also co-founder of the Poets Theater, an influential poetry, stage, and performance group based in San Francisco.[6]

Life and career[edit]

Kevin Killian was raised Roman Catholic and attended a Roman Catholic parochial school run by Franciscan monks.[7][8] He discussed these experiences in an essay in the edited work Wrestling With the Angel, which describes the experiences of 21 gay men with religion.[9] He was also the New York City spelling bee champion.[10]

Kevin 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.[7][11] Although he is gay and Dodie Bellamy is a lesbian, the couple married and have an active heterosexual sex life.[1] 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.[12]

As a beginning novelist, Killian tied for first place in the "Hamming Up Hammett" Dashiell Hammett bad writing contest in San Francisco in 1988.[13] Author Dodie Bellamy featured him as a partially fictional character in her vampire novel, The Letters of Mina Harker.[14] His poetry has appeared in the anthology The Best American Poetry 1988, the magazine Discontents, and the anthology Good Times: Bad Trips.[15] Killian once based an entire volume of poetry on the work of horror film director Dario Argento[16] (motivated to do so as a response to the AIDS epidemic).[7] Killian also helped author Alvin Orloff polish chapters of his novel Gutterboys.[17] 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."[18] 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".[3] The work was also highly praised by The New York Times.[19]

Killian's 2009 collection of short gay erotic fiction, Impossible Princess, won the Lambda Literary Foundation Award for best gay men's erotica.[5] It was his third collection of short fiction.[20]

Killian is founder and former director of Small Press Traffic.[21] He now edits the poetry 'zine Mirage.[22]

Poets Theater and retrospective work[edit]

Killian also has some acting experience. His interest in theatre emerged in the early 1980s when he saw experimental plays by Carla Harryman.[23] Harryman and Tom Mandel subsequently cast him in their play, Fist of the Colossus.[7] He co-founded the Poets Theater in San Francisco,[6] and has acted in as well as written pieces for staging by the group.[23] As of 2001, he had written 31 plays.[7] He co-authored the performance art piece The Red and the Green in 2005 with cinemtographer Karla Milosevich.[24] In 2009, Killian and David Brazil co-edited a collection of Poets Theater pieces, The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theatre: 1945-1985.[6]

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.[25] 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.[26]

Published works[edit]

Story and poetry collections[edit]

  • 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)
  • Tony Greene Era (Wonder, 2016)



Edited works[edit]

  • 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)


  1. ^ a b Bellamy, Dodie. "My Mixed Marriage." The Village Voice. June 27, 2000.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ a b "The Best Books of 2008." The Village Voice. December 10, 2008.
  4. ^ 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) 
  5. ^ a b Valenzuela, Tony. "Winners of 22nd Annual Lambda Literary Awards." Lambda Literary Foundation. May 28, 2010. Accessed 2010-05-28.
  6. ^ a b c Pohl, R.D. "Poets Theater at Burchfield Penney Art Center." Buffalo News. April 2, 2009.
  7. ^ a b c d e Sullivan, Gary. "Kevin Killian: Interview." readme. Spring/Summer 2001. Accessed 2010-05-29.
  8. ^ Wiegand, David and Holt, Patricia. "Books in Brief." San Francisco Chronicle. June 18, 1995.
  9. ^ Wrestling With the Angel: Faith and Religion in the Lives of Gay Men. Brian Bouldrey, ed. Reprint ed. New York: Riverhead Trade, 1996.
  10. ^ Carroll, Jon. "Jon Carroll." San Francisco Chronicle. May 22, 2008.
  11. ^ Bradshaw, Joseph. "Reviving Jack Spicer: An Interview with Kevin Killian." Rain Taxi. Winter 2008. Accessed 2010-05-29.
  12. ^ Tudor, Silke. "Night Crawler." SF Weekly. May 10, 2000; Chonin, Neva. "An Enigmatic Writer Depicts Secret Worlds." San Francisco Chronicle. June 26, 2000.
  13. ^ "Would-Be Writers With Style, Dash Hammett Up In Contest." Toledo Blade. November 1, 1988.
  14. ^ Benderson, Bruce. "Book Review: The Letters of Mina Harker." The Village Voice. April 14, 1998.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Dark, Jane. "Fever Pitch." The Village Voice. August 13, 2002.
  17. ^ Ford, Dave. "Author Hangs Onto His Mad Cap As He Captures '80s Gay Scene in 'Gutterboys'." San Francisco Chronicle. August 13, 2004.
  18. ^ White, Edmund. "Sex and the City." The New York Times. February 21, 1999.
  19. ^ Garner, Dwight. "Sometimes Love Lives Alongside Loneliness." New York Times. December 24, 2008.
  20. ^ McMurtrie, John. "Fall Preview." San Francisco Chronicle. September 6, 2009.
  21. ^ Schwartz, Stephen. "Alternative S.F. Bookstore Hits Tough Times." San Francisco Chronicle. August 27, 1992.
  22. ^ Feinstein, Lea. "Twenty-Five Artists, Five Spaces, Five Weeks, and a Multitude of Visions." SF Weekly. July 26, 2006.
  23. ^ a b Cook, David. "The Poets Theater Jubilee Brings Verse to the Stage." SF Weekly. January 23, 2002.
  24. ^ "Angel Street." The Oregonian. September 2, 2005.
  25. ^ Burnham, Emily. "Words Processing." Bangor Daily News. June 7, 2008.
  26. ^ Vogel, Tracy. "The Anger and the Ecstasy of Kiki Revisited." SF Weekly. July 9, 2008.

External links[edit]