Douglas Kearney

Douglas Kearney

Douglas Kearney’s collection of writing on poetics and performativity, Mess and Mess and (Noemi Press, 2015), was a Small Press Distribution Handpicked Selection that Publisher’s Weekly called “an extraordinary book.” His third poetry collection, Patter (Red Hen Press, 2014), examines miscarriage, infertility, and parenthood. It was a finalist for the California Book Award in Poetry. Cultural critic Greg Tate remarked that Kearney’s second book, National Poetry Series selection, The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), “flows from a consideration of urban speech, negro spontaneity, and book learning.” Someone Took They Tongues. (Subito Press 2016) collects several of his libretti, including one written in a counterfeit Afro-diasporic language. Of Tongues, M. NourbeSe Philip writes, “where liberation meets libretto.... [Demonstrates] the ‘fist of voice of wound.’” Of his most recent collection, Buck Studies (Fence Books, 2016), The Black Took Collective writes: “an upper level seminar where the Black ‘I’ staggers, revealing absence beyond absence, the compromised subject, one injured yet never inured.”

His work has appeared in a number of anthologies including Best American Poetry (2014, 2015), Best American Experimental Writing (2014), What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Writers in America, The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, Kindergarde: Avant-Garde Poems, Plays, Stories, and Songs for Children, and many others. He is also widely published in magazines and journals, including Poetry, nocturnes, Pleiades, Iowa Review, Callaloo, Boston Review, Hyperallergic, Scapegoat, Obsidian, Boundary 2, Jacket2, Lana Turner, Brooklyn Rail, and Indiana Review.

A librettist, Kearney has had three operas staged. Crescent City, composed by CalArts’ Anne LeBaron, was the inaugural production of L.A.’s new experimental opera company, The Industry. Mark Swed (the Los Angeles Times) called the libretto “poetically rich” and the opera “breathtaking.” Sucktion (another collaboration with LeBaron) has been performed internationally. Mordake, composed by Erling Wold, premiered in San Francisco.

His profesional activities include guest editing 2015’s Best American Experimental Writing (Wesleyan); lecture and studio visits at Yale’s Program in Sculpture; a talk at Claremont’s Graphic Design Department; a panel on legibility at Poéticas Transversales, a literary festival in Mexico City; workshops for teachers and families at the Getty, the Getty Villa, the Hammer, and MOCA; and service on the Mayoral Committee for the First Poet Laureate of Los Angeles.

Critical study of his work shares a chapter with MacArthur Fellow Claudia Rankine in Anthony Reed’s Freedom Time: The Poetics and Politics of Black Experimental Writing (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015) and numerous articles with topics ranging from the Middle Passage to cyborgs.

He has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, residencies/fellowships from Cave Canem, The Rauschenberg Foundation, and others. Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. He is pleased to teach at CalArts, where he earned his MFA in Writing (04).