Douglas Kearney's first full-length collection of poems, Fear, Some, hit the shelves in 2006 (Red Hen Press). His second manuscript, The Black Automaton, was chosen by Catherine Wagner for the National Poetry Series and published by Fence Books in 2009. National Book Award-winner Terrance Hayes writes: “This is a jaw-dropping, electrifying book. What else can I say? I have never encountered poetry like this.” The Black Automaton was also a finalist for the Pen Center USA Award in 2010. The CD, There Are Sharks in this Poem (Fence Records 2011), features a live reading from his second collection. His chapbook-as-LP-as-broadsides, Quantum Spit, was published by Corollary Press (2010). His new chapbook, SkinMag, is now available (A5/Deadly Chaps, 2012). His poetry has appeared in journals including Callaloo, nocturnes, jubilat, Ninth Letter, Washington Square, mipoesias.com, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, Fence and others; as well as in several anthologies, including The Ringing Ear, Black Nature, the World Fantasy Award-Winning Dark Matter: Reading the Bones and Saints of Hysteria which features a collaboration between Kearney and Harryette Mullen.
He has been a featured performer at venues across the country, including the New York Public Theater, the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, the Orpheum in Minneapolis, Locus Arts in San Francisco and the Geffen in Los Angeles. He has received commissions from the Weisman Art Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, FOCA/Les Figues Press and SFMOMA to create poetry in response to art installations. He has led workshops on ekphrasis at MOCA and the Getty. Kearney has been invited to perform and speak at festivals in Mexico City, Malmö, New York, Washington D.C. and many other cities and is frequently called upon to discuss innovation and experiment in African American poetry at conferences and interviews. He has shared stages with Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Wanda Coleman and Saul Williams.
A librettist, Kearney has written four operas, including Jungaeyé (excerpts from the libretto were published in Performance Research); Mordake (Erling Wold, composer), which premiered 2008 at the San Francisco International Arts Festival; Sucktion (Anne LeBaron, composer) which was awarded a Multi-Arts Production Fund grant and premiered at Los Angeles' REDCAT in 2008 and has since been produced internationally; and Crescent City (LeBaron, composer), also a MAPFund awarded project, which was featured at the New York City Opera's Vox Festival in 2009 and premiered in full in Los Angeles, spring 201. The L.A. Times called his libretto “poeti-cally rich.” Additionally, his work in theater includes an experimental play for children commis-sioned by KinderGarde (Word Play: A Word-Play, 2009), dramaturgy and lectures on dramaturgy, performance and performative typography.
Kearney is a recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and Coat Hanger award, along with several fellowships and residencies, including Cave Canem, Callaloo, Idyllwild and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.