Faculty Member, Douglas Kearney, Selected for the 2008 National Poetry Series
Valencia, September 25--The National Poetry Series’ 2008 Open Competition has selected poet, performer and librettist Douglas Kearney for publication. Each year, the National Poetry Series publishes five poetry books through participating publishers. Kearney’s manuscript for The Black Automaton was chosen by poet Catherine Wagner to be published by Fence Books in the spring of 2009.
Kearney received an MFA degree in 2004, from California Institute of the Arts’ (CalArts) Writing Program, where he now teaches courses in African American poetry, myth, hip hop and opera in the School of Critical Studies. “I feel truly honored by this award,” he said. “The National Poetry Series has published wonderful books over the years. So, it is tremendously exciting to be included in that trajectory.”
The Black Automaton begins, according to the author, “with rubble and tries to scrap together a kind of life.” Through ambivalent animals thriving in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the Floodsong cycle; lyric confrontations of infertility in the Six Cities cycle; and the Black Automaton cycle’s textual explorations of hip hop methodologies, Kearney investigates the body's risky proximity to disintegration.
Kearney submitted a blind manuscript to the competition and was chosen, from more than a thousand submissions, to be one of 50 finalists. Five distinguished poets, each representing a press, individually chose a single winner from the pool of finalists. The authors of the manuscripts were identified only after the poets made their selections.
Fear, Some, Kearney’s first full-length collection of poetry, was published by Red Hen Press in 2006. He was named a notable New American Poet for 2007 by The Poetry Society of America. In 2007, he was honored with one of the first Returning Fellow fellowships at the Idyllwild Summer Arts Poetry Workshop. His poetry has earned him a Coat Hanger Award and a Pushcart nomination.
Kearney’s poetry has appeared in journals including Callaloo, nocturnes, jubilat, Ninth Letter, Performance Research, Washington Square, MiPOesias, Gulf Coast; as well as several anthologies, including The Ringing Ear, Role Call, the World Fantasy Award-Winning Dark Matter: Reading the Bones and Saints of Hysteria which features a collaboration between Kearney and Harryette Mullen. He has written and performed poetry for a number of audio recordings and has been a featured at venues across the country. In addition, Kearney has received commissions from the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis and the Studio Museum in Harlem to create poetry in response to art installations.
As a librettist, Kearney has written for several collaborators including John Duykers, Missy Weaver, Erling Wold; and Pulitzer Prize runner-up Eisa Davis. In 2007, Kearney and Alpert award winning composer, Anne LeBaron received a MAP Fund Grant for Sucktion, a solo opera which premiered at REDCAT’s NOW Festival in 2008. He is currently at work on LeBaron’s next opera, Crescent City.
The National Poetry Series was established in 1978 to ensure the publication of five poetry books annually through participating publishers. Publication is funded by the Lannan Foundation; Stephen Graham; Joyce & Seward Johnson Foundation; Glenn & Renee Schaeffer, Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation; and Charles B. Wright III.
The nation's first art institute to offer BFA and MFA degrees in both the visual and performing arts, CalArts is dedicated to training and nurturing the next generation of professional artists, fostering innovation within the broadest context possible. Emphasis is placed on new and experimental work and students are accepted solely on the basis of artistic ability. To encourage experimentation, CalArts' six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater--are all housed under one roof in a five-story building with the equivalent of 11 acres of square footage in Valencia, California, 30 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles.