Dawn of the Dead; Trauma

ARGENTO SERIES

Kevin Killian, Author . Krupskaya $9 (85p) ISBN 978-1-928650-10-2

Reformatting the camp horror and highly stylized beauty of the work of Italian filmmaker Dario Argento (Dawn of the Dead; Trauma; etc.), influential San Francisco–based poet and playwright Killian (Little Men) bends the rays of his experiences with friends and lovers killed by AIDS through the filmmaker's lens: "The killer lives next door to a little blond boy who plays with insects; a butterfly watches him play and we see the boy from the butterfly's point of view." Such descriptive prose passages based on Argento contrast formally with various poems that retain strong narrative elements, with autobiography emerging not within horror's stock tropes (one doomed speaker "felt this stab in my head/ a red explosion of blood vehicles, brain flack") and in other pop variants including song lyrics: "I met him on a Sunday/ and he taught me how to skip/ week days, smoking his weed." The work drifts between an inventory of past loves and deaths and a present San Francisco in which these are remembered during bus rides and conversations: "Half of event is therapy.... The other half of event is trauma." Key elements are po-biz gossip ("Frenchmen/ love Cole Swensen: she's so thin and she's/ got that haircut"), proper names (of movie stars in particular) and an eclectic vernacular that emerges like prize T-shirts: "Hey, goombah, c'mere." All of these techniques work both to propose and to complicate pathos—"ten minutes later he spotted a rainbow/ even then hoary cliche of gay experiential camaraderie"—in a work that inventively imagines linkages between desire, memory and media. (July)

Forecast:Killian is coauthor (with Lewis Ellingham) of Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance, along with various small press books and reviews. This book should be reviewed in national small press–oriented journals. Look for a Lambda nomination as well.

Reviewed on: 06/18/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
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