Douglas Kearney has published six books, most recently, Buck Studies (Fence Books, 2016), winner of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award, the CLMP Firecracker Award for Poetry and silver medalist for the California Book Award (Poetry). BOMB says: “[Buck Studies] remaps the 20th century in a project that is both lyrical and epic, personal and historical.” M. NourbeSe Philip calls Kearney’s collection of libretti, Someone Took They Tongues. (Subito, 2016), “a seismic, polyphonic mash-up that disturbs the tongue.” 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.” Starts Spinning (Rain Taxi), a chapbook of poetry, saw publication in 2019. His work is widely anthologized, including Best American Poetry (2014, 2015), Best American Experimental Writing (2014), The Creative Critic: Writing As/About Practice, What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Writers in America, and The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. He is also widely published in magazines and journals, including Poetry, Callaloo, Boston Review, Hyperallergic, Jacket2, and Lana Turner. His work has been exhibited at the American Jazz Museum, Temple Contemporary, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, and The Visitor’s Welcome Center (Los Angeles). A librettist, Kearney has had four operas staged, most recently Sweet Land, which received rave reviews from The LA Times, The NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The LA Weekly. He has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly Award for Poetry, residencies/fellowships from Cave Canem, The Rauschenberg Foundation, and others. A Howard University and CalArts alum, Kearney teaches Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. Born in Brooklyn, raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in St. Paul.
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
For a couple struggling with infertility, conception is a war against their bodies. Blood and death attend. But when the war is won, and life stares, hungry, in the parents’ faces, where does that violence, anxiety, and shame go? The poems in Patter re-imagine miscarriages as minstrel shows, magic tricks, and comic strips; set Darth Vader against Oedipus’s dad in competition for “Father of the Year;” and interrogate the poet’s family’s stint on reality TV. In this, his third collection, award-winning poet Douglas Kearney doggedly worries the line between love and hate, showing how it bleeds itself into “fatherhood.”
“Where, oh where would we be without the dynamic intelligence and feats of lyric daring that Douglas Kearney’s work has delivered to American poetry? The poems in Patter run back and forth through the realms of private interiority, popular culture, and the vast public arena of history, all the while re-inventing what the poetic line is capable of bearing and baring. Completely and un-ironically alive with genuine feeling, these are poems that are not afraid to say and show how we matter to one another.”—Tracy K. Smith
“Because bodies matter, name, beget and conceive, Douglas Kearney’s Patter exists within the stall, the break, the miscarriage in bodies bothered by history, blood and breath. What is it to father the inchoate and the ineffable that exists in the life of the black family? Kearney’s exquisite poems dissolve our sight, force us to speak aloud, and compel us to hunt and find within the illogic logic of our lives. Patter is its own genius music—revolutionary, intimate and everyone’s.”—Claudia Rankine
Publication Date: November 1, 2006
Stealing tropes from militancy to minstrelsy, Fear, some broadcasts from the slippery moments when personal, national, racial and aesthetic anxieties overlap. These poems seek to pressurize content (“At the Pink Teacup”), language (“Atomic Buckdance”) and form (the Blaxploitation epic-remix, “(dig!) Bloom is Boom, Sucka!”) until they evoke suspicion, tension, fear and the laughter that rattles after the horrifyingly ridiculous.