Kevin Kane Intellectual Profile

1. Give some basic information about your studies and fields of interest.

I am a third year English/Creative Writing major specifying in poetry.  The focus of my studies have been predominantly contemporary poetry, minimalism, and the New York School.  I am taking Contemporary Art because the University has forbade me from taking any more classes within the English Department, which I consider extremely nonsensical.  I understand, however, the university’s drive to graduate a body of students who are multi-capable.  The prospect of taking only non-English classes from now on logically led me to the Art History and Studio Arts Departments, in whichI will hopefully be spending much of my remainder of time at the University.   I have always cherished a love of the arts, and it was my “focus” in high school (if such a focus exists at that age), but I have never taken an Art class here at CU.  I will hopefully graduate in December of this year, at which point I will be applying for an MFA graduate program at a number of Universities, including CU, NYU, and UMass Amherst.  I hope to one day become a doctor of English studies and teach at the university level.

2. Describe an exhibition that you liked or found impressive. Tell us why. Please provide a link to a website, if possible.

I have spent countless hours in the Denver Art Museum, and on my most recent visit, I was happily surprised to find the new exhibit by Edward Ruscha on Jack Kerouac’s On The Road.  I had not heard of Edward Ruscha before the exhibit, and indeed I had not even checked the DAM webpage to check on new exhibits, so this one caught me by surprise.  The exhibit is phenomenal, blending text and image in both Ruscha’s paintings and also placing cut out images along pages of Kerouac’s original text that includes many pages dedicated to the Denver/Boulder area.  Kerouac, along with his Beat Generation poets, remains a prominent influence in not only my own writing, but also my education from CU, given his prolific influences on the literary and artistic communities here.  Along with this exhibit, I much enjoyed a handful of other new instillations of Ruscha’s text-and-image works in the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Molten Polyester by Edward Ruscha:

3. Which books did you read of late (art, fiction, non-fiction)? Pick one and go into detail about it.

Over the break, I read a good number of new poetry collections by some of my favorite authors including Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Peter Gizzi, and CU’s own Noah Eli Gordon.  However, the book that struck me most was Graham Foust’s new collection, A Mouth In California.  Foust’s minimalist style uses the commonalities of our American culture as a vehicle for his consistent self-deconstruction, as in this poem “To Grammatology:”

TO GRAMMATOLOGY

let me lay

quiet

awhile

lost

at least

in thought.

let me

unsentence me

to things

give me the time

to give me

away

if only like

a place

I wanted solved.

 

4. What are your main interests besides art?

Besides my literary and artistic life, I am also a professional cyclist for the Rocky Mountain Factory Team out of Vancouver, Canada, and a member of the US National U23 Cross Country Mountain Bike Team.  I have been racing competitively since I was about 10, and have traveled extensively as a professional cyclist since I turned 17.  Despite seeming success therein, I have recently chosen to take a break from the sport in order to focus on the push towards graduate school.  As enjoyable the prospect of life as a professional athlete sounds, I have become recently frustrated with the sport’s misguided leadership, especially within the United States, and have found myself consistently more in conflict between my commitments to the sport and my commitments to myself and my love of poetry and learning.  Unfortunately, it seems, the two don’t very well go together.

5. Which blogs do you check regularly?

There are several online journals I keep regular tabs on, including The Volta, and Pennsound, both of which are pages dedicated to poetry and activities therein.  I am also constantly checking the webpages of my favorite publishers, as many of them are posting often about the newest books being published and reading dates and events of the authors of those books.  These pages include Ugly Duckling Presse, Wave Books, Octopus Press, and Counterpath.  I am also a huge fan of Heather Christle’s Tumblr and Julia Cohen’s Blogger.

6. Which cultural event has really impressed you lately? This can be a museum, a concert, or anything like that, but also a sports game (if you consider this a cultural event for which there are good reasons). Or anything I am not even thinking of … Again, tell us why.

I recently attended a poetry reading at Denver’s popular Vegan restaurant, City, O’ City, where three of my favorite Denver-based poets read: Mathias Svalina (I Am A Very Productive Entrepreneur, 2011), Julia Cohen (Triggermoon Triggermoon, 2010), and Zachary Schomburg.  Svalina is a professor at Denver Metro College, but was invited as a guest professor in the Fall of 2011 to teach at CU.  I was lucky enough to get into this workshop, but despite how good the class was, I hadn’t gotten to see him read his own poems since his reading with Arda Collins at CU in the Fall of 2010.  For this reason, among others, I was excited to see him, Julia, and Zach read.  Though I would consider them all good friends, they are also, speaking without bias, incredibly good poets.  Afterwards, it was a supremely rewarding experience to hit up the Denver Bar scene with the readers and a handful of the most prolific poets and publishers of the area.

7. Please describe briefly an article in a newspaper or a magazine that got you thinking lately. Reading online is fine, and what you introduce here does not have to be about art. If the respective article is available online, please link to it!

I recently read an interview with Peter Gizzi on Poetry Daily in which Gizzi is asked to describe the qualities of his work that seem bewildered yet authoritative.  Gizzi’s response to this question has sat with me ever since I read it: “I like the word bewilderment because it has both be and wild in it, and I can imagine also wilderness inside it as well. As to certainty or authority in my work, I prefer the word inevitability—that is to say, meaning in a poem can be at once random and inevitable, and not-knowing can come to some sort of order that allows meaning to happen, mystery.”  The interview is concluded with the following, equally powerful quote: “Poems that work for me have a kind of stereoscopic depth. With a stereoscope, you have the illusion of seeing all three dimensions, but it’s unstable, or elusive, and yet it’s there, right in front of your eyes.”  Gizzi is one of the most knowledgeable, articulate poets living and writing in America today—this quality is evident in his many interviews available online and elsewhere.  He is certainly a prominent voice in modern poetry that should be reckoned with.

8. Please share with us a thought or an idea that really widened your intellectual horizon. Again, this must not be limited to the visual arts. If possible, give a source for this idea so that others know where to go to if they are interested.

I remember sometime in high school reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, a book that covers a broad range of aesthetics and erudite topics.  Though I believe capitalism in its current form to be a major problem, especially when it comes to the current state of our education system, the ideals behind Rand’s Objectivism were a major influence in several of my major steps towards my current views of the world and motivations therein.

9. Have you been to the Denver Art Museum, MCA Denver and BMoca Boulder? Describe one art object or a show you remember seeing.

For a long time, The Necessity for Ruins, an oil painting and instillation by Don Stinson at the Denver Art Museum’s Western American Art Collection has been one of my favorite pieces of art.  It depicts, on two separate canvasses, an abandoned drive-in movie theater overgrown and forgotten split horizontally by the contrast between a cumulus-spattered western blue sky and a horizon of rolling green foothills behind the yellow-green prairie.  Beginning in high school, I became interested, in both art and poetry, in the liminal space our suburban encroachment into the natural.  I could talk about this painting’s socio-political and environmental ramifications for day, but aesthetically, the asymmetrical has always intrigued me most. Ever since I first saw Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, I have recognized the power of asymmetry in providing tension to a work.  Don Stinson is interested in both these things: our encroachment into nature and symmetry.

Poor quality photo of Don Stinson’s The Necessity for Ruins:

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