New work by JKS alumna Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey

Screen-Shot-2015-02-19-at-12_34_53-PMThe Operating System has announced its 2015 catalogue, which includes new work by JKS alumna Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey.

“Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey has written a diasporic work that deals with loss, healing and place in a complex and deeply engaged way. What is a page, both before and after a radical fire? What does it mean to come to writing again as to life? Reavey answers these questions with an urgency and feeling that is pressed through many languages and her many attempts to breathe, create, survive, think and be.”
Bhanu Kapil

Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey’s first book, Marilyn, began as an exploration through somatic experiments on what it means to stay and became a fragmented map of the immigration system, the international adoption process, and family. How do you articulate disenfranchised grief? How does a person who has no origin write herself into existence? What happens when all you have left is, as Sarita Echavez See says, ‘the body to articulate loss’?

Framed by a return trip to the Philippines in 2011, her first time back since leaving, Reavey takes the most intense images [real, imagined, dreamed] encountered while living in-between six different countries, and expunges them in attempt to stitch the Asian, diasporic body. The result is an ancestral line, a path back not to the beginning of life nor just before, but rather to the primordial. To ancestral roots. To orality: a name.

More Than Just a Nostalgic Nose: Interview With John Sakkis (!!) at SF Weekly

John-SakkisPoet, editor, translator, and Internet-hater (and JKS Alumnus!) John Sakkis was interviewed this week for “The Write Stuff” at SF Weekly! Here’s an excerpt:

If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?

I’d tell them the same thing Anne Waldman told me years ago at Naropa, that if you want to be part of a literary community, an active participant, it’s not enough to just write your poetry or prose, you need to put in work towards the community; that means attending readings, curating readings, publishing a magazine, starting a little press, supporting small presses by purchasing books (poetry is a gift economy, but you gotta buy the books sometimes too), writing and writing and writing and reading reading reading, that’s the initiation, no way around it.


I / Not I: Symposium on Identity Poetics, featuring Kazim Ali, Ana Merino, Ronaldo Wilson, and Dorothy Wang, the Leslie Scalapino Lecturer in Innovative Poetics

Please join us for the upcoming I / Not I: Symposium on Identity Poetics, featuring Kazim Ali, Ana Merino, Ronaldo Wilson, and Dorothy Wang, the Leslie Scalapino Lecturer in Innovative Poetics

Monday, March 30
7:00 PM: Scalapino Lecture with Dorothy Wang (PAC)
Followed by I / Not I JKS Student Reading

Tuesday, March 31
2:00 PM: I / Not I Guest Panel (Student Union)
7:30 PM: I / Not I Guest Reading (PAC)

**We will be selling books by our guests at the reading on Tuesday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. in PAC. Please note that all sales will be CASH ONLY.

All events are free and open to the public.

2015 I Not I Symposium - Poster Web

How do we as writers negotiate the “I” in the face of deconstructed/reconstructed identities? The “I” has become an interstice. It is the liminal: a transitional space, occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold. It destabilizes the binary. It functions as imbrications. “I” am both; “I” am neither.


Kazim Ali is a poet, essayist, fiction writer and translator. His books include several volumes of poetry, including Sky Ward (Wesleyan University Press, 2013), winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry, The Far Mosque, winner of Alice James Books’ New England/New York Award, The Fortieth Day (BOA Editions, 2008), and the cross-genre text Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities (Wesleyan University Press, 2009). He has also published a translation of Water’s Footfall by Sohrab Sepehri (Omnidawn Press, 2011), Oasis of Now: Selected Poems by Sohrab Sepehri (BOA Editions, 2013) and (with Libby Murphy) L’amour by Marguerite Duras (Open Letter Books, 2013). His novels include Quinn’s Passage (blazeVox books), named one of “The Best Books of 2005″ by Chronogram magazine and The Disappearance of Seth (Etruscan Press, 2009), and his books of essays include Orange Alert: Essays on Poetry, Art and the Architecture of Silence (University of Michigan Press, 2010), Fasting for Ramadan (Tupelo Press, 2011).  In addition to co-editing Jean Valentine: This-World Company (University of Michigan Press, 2012), he is a contributing editor for AWP Writers Chronicle and associate editor of the literary magazine FIELD and founding editor of the small press Nightboat Books. He is the series co-editor for both Poets on Poetry and Under Discussion, from the University of Michigan Press. He is an associate professor of Creative Writing and Comparative Literature at Oberlin College.


Ana Merino is the director of the MFA in Spanish Creative Writing at the University of Iowa. She has published seven books of poetry: Preparativos para un viaje (winner 1994 Adonais Award), Los días gemelos, La voz de los relojesJuegos de niños, translated into English as Child’s Play (Harbor Mountain Press 2012 and winner 2003 Fray Luis de León Award),  Compañera de celda, translated into English as Cell Mate (Harbor Mountain Press, 2007), Curación and Hagamos caso al tigre. An anthology of her poetry has been translated into German and published by teamart Verlag Zurich, 2009. She is also the author of a youth novel El hombre de los dos corazones (2009) and two plays Amor: muy frágil (2013) and Las decepciones (2014). Merino also writes about Comics and Graphic novels criticism with numerous articles, and a book entitled El comic hispánico (2003) and a critical monograph on Chris Ware.


Ronaldo V. Wilson, PhD is the author of Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008), winner of the 2007 Cave Canem Poetry Prize; Poems of the Black Object (Futurepoem Books, 2009) winner of the 2010 Asian American Literary Award and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry; Farther Traveler: Poetry, Prose, Other (Counterpath Press, 2015), and Lucy 72 (1913 Press, 2015).  A recent Artist-in-Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Center for Art and Thought (CA+T), Wilson is Co-founder of the Black Took Collective and currently an Assistant Professor of Poetry, Fiction and Literature, and Core Faculty of the PhD Creative/Critical Concentration in the Literature Department of the University of California, Santa Cruz.


Dorothy Wang is an Associate Professor in American Studies and a Faculty Affiliate in the Department of English at Williams College. Her book Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry (Stanford University Press, 2014) received Honorable Mention in the Poetry Foundation’s first Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. She previously taught in the English departments at Northwestern University and Wesleyan University. Wang holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.


Naropa University welcomes participants with disabilities. Please contact Ariella Ruth at 303-546-3581 or to inquire about accessibility and discuss disability accommodations needed to participate fully in these events.

New chapbook from J’Lyn Chapman!


Congratulations to JKS Core Faculty J’Lyn Chapman on her new chapbook The Form Our Curiosity Takes: A Pedagogy of Conversation from Essay Press.

From the Foreward:
“In fall 2013, Andy Fitch, then editor at The Conversant, suggested I put together a chapbook based on my “pedagogy of conversation.” Although I had been initiating interviews between my students in the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University and a writer or critic whose work I had assigned, I had thought of these interviews as primarily an instructional tool. Inviting writers to visit a class is not an uncommon practice for an instructor, especially on Colorado’s Front Range, where the environment is rich with both writing programs and established writers. For some time, I’ve been taking
advantage of my friendships with and connections to published writers by assigning their work and then either inviting them to class or organizing email interviews. Many of these interviews landed at The Conversant after the poet Chris Martin suggested we publish our fall 2012 interview there. Only recently have I begun to see those practices as a pedagogy.”

You can download a PDF of the book here.

j-lyn-chapmanJ’Lyn Chapman’s essays and prose poems have been published in Conjunctions, Fence, Sentence, and American Letters & Commentary, among other journals. Calamari Press published the chapbook, Bear Stories. An essay derived from her doctoral dissertation on W.G. Sebald was recently published in Picturing the Language of Images. She is Core Candidate Assistant Professor in the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado and edits the online poetics journal Something on Paper.

Review of Allen Ginsberg Visiting Fellow Kevin Killian’s Lecture, The Colors in Darkness, February 9, 2015

By Jennifer van Alstyne

Kevin Killian’s performance/photographic series entitled Tagged, where male models pose with a male genitalia drawing while nude, was the subject of his lecture Colors in Darkness. The drawing models held in front of their own genitalia was called, cock and balls on a mannequin by Raymond Pettibon, a New York based artist famous for the band Black Flag’s logo.

Killian also taught a class over the weekend which focused on the Bay Area poet Jack Spicer. Killian noted in his lecture that Spicer himself conducted a similar photographic experiment with nude male models. Unfortunately, the poet died indigent, but was buried in a mausoleum a few yards from the newspaper mogul Willian Randolph Hearst, a setting Killian used in this series—young poets offering their bodies to the dead poet. He was also inspired by Allen Ginsberg, visual artist David Wojnarowicz, famous for his series Rimbaud in New York, and other both distant, but subtle sources such as Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge or William Holden’s body in Sunset Boulevard.

Models range from artists to novelists to young poets. The series questions not only what the phallus has become but allows models and viewers to explore the mask of the drawing, whether placing it over their own genitalia or gazing upon it. David Brazile says, “Photos can act as mere signifiers of masculinity.” Thus, the viewer is seeing a signified version of masculinity through the drawing, which is, in itself for the subject, a signifier of masculinity. Killian himself admitted a drawing of a phallus is a perfect example of Freud’s over-determinism.

He had a ritual with his subjects to place their clothing on a table, and photograph, or record, what they came in with and what they would walk out of the studio or residence wearing. Killian, trying to explore “the gaze in [him]self,” opens up authorial agency creating a temporary but safe dominant/submissive relationship where models can experience the mask without commitment. One can choose to see the subject performing masculinity, or rather condensing it into what society believes differentiates gender. The intention of the act is to draw attention to different points of cultural reference for a viewer say, in an art gallery, to be taken by surprise at the oddity, and also surreal poses, of the men’s stares and different contraposto poses. It is both multi-layered and characteristic of a camp style consciously, although wary of revealing itself as such.

Tableau vivant translates from French to mean “living picture,” and was mentioned by Killian in his talk. This was another goal of his artistic practice, which dates back to American frontier towns in the 19th century, where paintings and royal coronations were recreated, but also were a form of erotic entertainment. Photography has long been used to capture people living in a present moment of history, from Julia Margaret Cameron’s portraits, to Ansel Adam’s landscapes, to Robert Franks The Americans. Killian hopes to eventually recreate a collection of nude photographs of men which originally appeared in Koff Magazine curated by Maggie Dubris and Elinor Nauen in the late 70s.

The lecture was followed by a reading and reception. Killian is the author of Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Rennisance (Wesleyan University Press, 1998), editor of My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer (Wesleyan University Press, 2008) and The Kenning Anthology of Poet’s Theater: 1945-1985 (Kenning Editions, 2010), as well as several books of poetry.

We hope you join us at the Naropa 4×4 Reading on March 10th at 7:30pm in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) on the Arapahoe campus. Please click here for a listing of 2014-2015 Jack Kerouac School Events.


Jennifer van Alstyne has been published in the Eunoia Review, Crack the Spine, Midwest Literary Magazine, The Monmouth Review, The Foundling Review, Paper Nautilus, Poetry Quarterly, and Whiskey Traveler. Her collection, “Scansioned Music: A Glenn Gould Collection”, was published in Crossroads 2013 for which she was the winner of the Jane Freed Grant. She is currently an Associate Editor for Something On Paper and Book Reviews Editor for Bombay Gin.

Review of Allen Ginsberg Visiting Fellow Kevin Killian’s Reading, February 9, 2015

By Heather Sweeney

Prior to Kevin Killian’s reading, the room was already charged. The lecture preceding the reading, in which he unveiled a series of photographs, created an atmosphere of heightened interest, among those of us who stayed. The images depicted nude, or nearly nude, men holding a drawing of a penis over, or near, their own penises. Some audience members loudly stomped out, leaving their energetic residue. A few were uptight. Many delighted and lightly laughed at times. Regardless, this work called attention to ourselves, our own desires and sexualities. Whether we were ready or not. Called attention to our own humanity, the sense of a collective we.

Killian is funny and charming with a touch of brashness. Some of his poems were balloon like, others dark smudgy. He zig zagged across the terrain that is our cultural landscape. The landscape that we cannot escape. Topics covered: Valentine’s Day, crystal meth, Walt Disney, hydrogen, Sean Penn, the war in Iraq. The field of the open, human page.

He began, appropriately, reading a Valentine’s Day centric poem from his book, Action Kylie, in which he invoked pop goddess, Kylie Minogue, singing, “She had a fever, a fever of love…” The poem was a resurrection of candy hearts: “love me, text me.” A formula of updated nostalgia.

I imagine that in a past life, Kevin Killian was one of the golden age Hollywood actors from the 1930s. It is the way he can pick apart a phrase, pause and sneer within the same breath. He appeared, at times, vulnerable, but he also brought an intensity to his readings with his sharp hand gestures that accompanied a constellation of famous voices. We witnessed the channeling of Kate Bush in her orangey red dress (“Heathcliff, it’s me Cathy. I’m so cold”) and Ethel Waters singing, “Am I Blue.”

Killian also shared some new work from Tweaky Village, an homage to San Francisco in the height of the speed and crystal meth craze of the 1990s. He described the “hollowed eyed men” on billboards and medications that “make you smile.” The gentrification of the city, the hyper-development. Can’t we all see this in our own towns and cities? Our bodies? As a mirror. The death of the flesh.

He often leaned in toward us while reading, as if he were talking with us at a cocktail party, and extended his hands as if to say, “Do you remember this too? Are we still experiencing this together?”

In 2013, Rex Ray asked Kevin to write a poem for the Gay Pride month mural. A poem had to be written and erected, and one that did not offend. But, Ray said, “Make sure they know…that it’s a gay poem, from line one.” Killian’s first magical line: “Before we knew we were gay, the plants knew…” Rex Ray recently died. Can this be a form of dedication to him? There we were, witnessing.

There were knowing plants, autumns and sestinas to experience. There were emerald isles and robots colliding. We had fun. We remembered disasters, deaths, epidemics. It was an exhibition. Of ourselves and each other. We kept our eyes on the prize. Thank you, Kevin Killian.


Heather Sweeney is an MFA candidate and Allen Ginsberg Fellow at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. Her poetry and book reviews have been published in Dusie, Cutbank, Shampoo and canwehaveourballback?. When she is not in Boulder, she lives in San Diego with her husband and beloved dog, Dexter.

34th Annual Black Maria Film Festival

Please join us on Monday, March 16 for the 34th Annual Black Maria Film Festival! This will be an exciting event, consisting of a full evening of jury-selected, short experimental films.


The Black Maria Film Festival

Monday, March 16

7:00 PM

Naropa’s Performing Arts Center, 2130 Arapahoe Ave.

Free and open to the public

For more information about this event, please visit:


Naropa University welcomes participants with disabilities. Please contact Ariella Ruth at or 303-546-3581 to inquire about accessibility and discuss disability accommodations needed to participate fully in this event.