Hobo Camp Review

The HCR Interview with Kenyatta JP Garcia

The best part about moving back to my hometown has been meeting all the incredible people doing amazing things right in my own backyard. I attended a reading featuring poets published by a local consortium of amazingness, Reality Beach, and I met Kenyatta JP Garcia. I soon discovered that Kenyatta is not just an insightful, hilarious human being, but also an incredibly talented literary artist. I’m very excited to share our little Q&A here at the campfire.

Hobo Camp Review: From the poetry I’ve seen you read to the statuses I see you post online, playing with language and altering meaning and intent seems to be a running theme in your work. Is this an intentional choice, or a natural progression of your art? Has this evolved over time?  

Kenyatta JP Garcia: This is very intentional. I started off as a trash talker. I had to learn how to twist words to more effectively diss my opponents. Over the years, I lost that. In English classes we read very little that interested me and fostered any sense of me being on the right track as a young writer. It was there that I went into image and left language behind. I became divorced from the thought but obsessed with the symbol. Granted a pictured is there to be twisted too but not in the same ways. When I went back to school for linguistics and dabbled in translation, I saw just how much was possible in a slip or a mistake. How much nuance each morpheme held and how flexible a phrase could be. I focused on syntax. Clauses are my bread and butter. Conjunctions my salt and pepper. But the portmanteau is my secret ingredient. It's juxtaposition and enjambment all in one word. It's harsh and subtle. It's troubling because it erases space. That's worse than eradicating a line. A border is there to be broken but space is not meant to be stolen. So long story long, I started with puns and homonyms to make fun of people to make the comeback  an uphill climb but over the years I learned to use those same methods as a way to connect. To give proximity a place in my work. Those alterations are seams and hem lines. I'm bringing in the ideas. I'm creating bespoke concepts. Hopefully.

HCR: What’s the best thing you’ve read so far in 2017, be it poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or something else?

KJPG: That's tough. I could go with Iatrogenic by Danielle Pafunda but then I wouldn't be saying pleth by jj hastain and Marthe Reed or Die Die Dinosaur by Michael Sikkema. Plus, I workshop with an amazing writer, Aimee Harrison, whose work always inspires me. And I'm working on a project with Stephanie Kaylor. She keeps me on my toes. Also Red Hood and Arsenal's last volume was a great end to my favorite duo.

HCR: What was your last “writing revelation” that you picked up along the way, a process or idea that made your writing easier, bolder, fresher, and/or more productive?

KJPG: Well it's been awhile since I had a revelation but I think one of my latest revelations has been a push away from images and towards ideas. That is to say, I'm becoming less vivid and seeing what I can do with the vague. I'm trying to leave more room for the daydream.

HCR: As one of the hosts of the St. Rocco’s Reading for the Dis-Possessed salon reading series, what do you think sets the series apart from others in the Albany area, and what inspired you to start your own series?

KJPG: Well, first off I'm so lucky to be doing this series with Aimee Harrison and Douglas Rothschild. I think the fact that we use a small space makes us unique. There's something special about drinking, talking and reading with friends in such small private place. It's nice not being in a bar or gallery. It's very liberating. And, we've been working hard to not only get quality out-of-towners but we also try to give the Albany poets and writers a place to perform. In addition, we're not very competitive. We have lots of love for James and Matt at YES. We're willing to work with other writers, organizers and our community. We use our neighborhood bar as a meeting place and that further fosters mingling. St. Rocco's goal is to be comforting and inviting. We want to know our audience and for them to know us and our readers.

HCR: What new project are you working on, and what’s the driving force/inspiration behind it? Tell us where we can find your work!

KJPG: I'm working on a series of vague memories. I'm trying to write a a series of diary-like entries that are removed from the moment of occurrence. This is the opposite of Slow Living in which I stayed very close to the happening. That was all forward and this is me going back but not necessarily a memoir. I'm trying to get at the feelings and desires not the details. I want to find a commonality that my other work pushed away from. My work is available on amazon.com for kindle and paperback. You can also go to lulu.com.

HCR: You’re on the road with three other artists, of any era and medium, of any level of fame, success, or anonymity. Who do you choose, and why?

KJPG: Of course this list begins with Ed Wood. I want to talk about using found footage to cobble together Glen or Glenda and I want to know how you keep working when nobody appreciates your work. Next up is Proust. Let's get down to brass tacks. Have you read your own books? Tell me what you think about you? Did you leave anything out? Why'd you switch perspectives? Why not name your narrator? And last up is Jim Carroll. I used to be a loudmouth. I watched the stupid movie and then read Basketball Diaries and I was like there's a place in this world for dirtbags. Jim is real New York. Then I read all the poems, listened to all the albums, and Forced Entries but Petting Zoo, man, tell me how you really wanted to end that book? That's one of my favorite books ever. I savored it and read it so slowly but that ending just doesn't feel like yours.

You can visit Kenyatta JP Garcia online at his Facebook page or at Lulu for his latest book, Slow Living

1 comment:

  1. Ed Wood and Proust together (forever now). This is what makes Kenny Kenny.