kevin sampsell

……Kevin Sampsell’s Paper Trumpets…..



In late April I read with Kevin Sampsell and Jay Ponteri in Nathan Curtis Warner’s LYE:WORDS at Pond Gallery.


Kevin had a projector set up and interrupted reading from his book to show his Collages. Sometimes they contained text, and sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes Kevin read the Collage text. . .Regardless, I was quite taken by them. . .And so I asked Kevin if I could feature some of them here on htmlgiant.


What follows, then is a Q & A we did with Kevin’s Collages interspersed.


And for more Collages check out this special section of Kevin Sampsell’s website.  And starting June 10th Kevin will be doing a Collage column, called Paper Trumpets,  for The Rumpus!!


Rauan: How did you get started doing Collages ??

Kevin: I was inspired by the cut-up experiments of William S. Burroughs and actually started doing word collages, mostly from newspaper headlines, about twenty years ago. I put out a weird little chapbook called Children’s Book in 1996 and I’ve always wanted to make a follow-up book. I’ve kept this big manila envelope of words ever since then, occasionally pulling it out and making funny cards and pictures with them and giving them to friends.Losing Love But those were more about wordplay and odd language. At the beginning of this year, I decided I’d pull out that envelope and start making more collages, kind of as a break from writing. I started to look around at other collage stuff on-line and discovered this whole big vibrant world of collage artists and, more importantly, I started to seriously consider the use of altered images to play off the words. I discovered this book called The Age of Collage and it included profiles and work by a bunch of great artists doing amazing work with collage. This page on the publisher’s web site included videos of John Stezaker and Linder Sterling and I became hooked. Stezaker’s video was especially influential. I started to look at collage every moment that I could and I joined a bunch of collage groups on Facebook too. I started to put more importance on how the images in the collage were presented. Words are still important, but the images are equally so now. Something clicked in my brain and I’m starting to figure out things with images. How to play with them and make them do strange things. Making collages is like creating optical illusions sometimes. Like with writing fiction or poems, pretty much anything can happen.

RK: Can you tell us a bit about yr Collage process??

For me, collage is all about seeing, as opposed to writing READ MORE >

Behind the Scenes / 2 Comments
June 2nd, 2014 / 5:13 pm


25 Points: This Is Between Us

sampsell-this-is-between-usThis Is Between Us
by Kevin Sampsell
Tin House Books, 2013
240 pages / $15.95 buy from Powell’s or Amazon









1. This book reminded me of this remix which was incredibly moving and pained me this spring and still pains me now

2. The thing about Kevin Sampsell is that he feels like the kind of guy who has been through everything. He’s just one of those people. He doesn’t have that used up feeling or look at all but he does have that vibe of being the kind of guy who has lived through basically everything there is as a human to experience but not in a hardened way.

3. I’m not explaining this right but he’s just one of those people who seems complicated and well adjusted and like if you talk to him he just has been there, whatever it is but he doesn’t come outright and say that instead he just comes from this I know what you mean mode which isn’t even patronizing the point here is that all of that also comes through in his writing and this book This Is Between Us from Tin House coming out is five years of a life.

4. Anything you have ever experienced in your life is in this book.

5. This book is comforting.

6. Sometimes this book is upsetting.

7. This book is comforting.

8. Some people said this book was disturbing and I was like have you ever lived your life at all or ever really loved someone or had a partner and if you haven’t maybe your life is easier and even if your life has been really nice you’ll still be like “yup” while reading parts of this book because it’s just so real in how it’s rendered because it’s just written so elegantly and simply stated and maybe that’s the thing with Kevin Sampsell’s writing.

9. We’re working with the rhetorical you in this entire book.

10. It’s written like a confessional ode-ish poem. READ MORE >

November 7th, 2013 / 1:06 pm

One example of the future tense is “Future Tense Books will do amazing things for the next 20 years too”

20 years is a long time. Future Tense Books, run by Kevin Sampsell, has been putting books out for 20 years. These books are about things like talking to the moon and petting whale carcasses. They’re about finally figuring out what it means to belong to what you are, which is that it means you’re a freak. They’re about when your son loves Spiderman. They’re about pictures of ceiling fans in different emotional states. They’re also Gary Lutz, Zoe Trope, Elizabeth Ellen, Shane Allison, Chloe Caldwell, and 20 years worth of folks all the other peppermint cans were too freaked out to publish.

Along with putting out these books, Kevin Sampsell has also been, for 10 of those 20 years, single-handedly curating the most amazing small press cave at Powell’s in Portland, OR. Occupy Indie Lit is a leaderless casserole, except Kevin is probably the one who lent us the stove. He’s been around. He’s helped everybody. He’s sexy. He’s the shit. All of which is to say: do you want a cake maybe? Do you want someone to write a ukelele song for you maybe? Do you want incentive perks, I mean? Most importantly: do you want to support a press that’s been around 20 years and is now running its first ever official fundraiser to help push itself to the next level, literally shank anything depressing you can think of about “the state of publishing,” and take over the world? Well then go here. Help the Future of Future Tense.

Presses / 3 Comments
October 19th, 2011 / 2:20 pm

6 Books: Kevin Sampsell on Nonfiction

This is Part II of a series where I ask writers I like for 6 book recommendations according to some loose guideline. Part I is here. This week, Kevin Sampsell, editor of Future Tense Books out of Portland, Oregon, doyen of Powell’s Books, and author of the wildly excellent memoir, A Common Pornography (Harper Perennial). To give you an idea of the goodness of Kevin’s book, I’ll confess that the first copy I had didn’t make it through my ravenous reading of it and I had to switch to another.

I asked Kevin to recommend 6 nonfiction books, old or new. He obliged, and then some:

Black Box: Cockpit Voice Recorder Accounts of In-Flight Accidents by Malcolm MacPherson

I’m fascinated with this book and the way these transcripts reflect the collected calm of airplane pilots and then their sudden confusion, panic, and tragedy. An eerie and morose reading experience.

I Remember by Joe Brainard

Whenever I go talk to a writing class about memoir, I always point out this book and read a little from it. Then I have the class write a few of their own “I Remembers.” It’s such a non-threatening and easy way to access parts of your life that you think are uninteresting and trivial, but turn out to be engaging and universal.

Time Out of Mind by Leonard Michaels

Besides his fiction and his essays, this book is a bit of an oddity because it’s more like disjointed journal entries. It took me a few pages to lock into Michaels’s groove, but once I did, this book turned into a thing of uncut beauty. I would have to say that Leonard Michaels is the author I’ve been most obsessed with for the past year since I read his novel, The Men’s Club.

Oedipus Wrecked by Kevin Keck

This book is so dirty and hilarious, but also sweetly heartfelt. For fans of Jonathan Ames and other straight-faced pervs.


Author Spotlight / 20 Comments
May 17th, 2011 / 6:32 pm

Forthcoming from Future Tense: Legs Get Led Astray by Chloe Caldwell

Future Tense has announced their first title for 2012—Legs Get Led Astray by Chloe Caldwell.

Legs Get Led Astray is a full-length collection of creative non-fiction. The connective threads throughout the book are love, relationships, obsession. The title alludes to getting lost looking for something that doesn’t exist: the perfect place to live, the perfect desk to write at, the perfect person to love, the perfect person to sleep with. There is no perfect anything and this compilation is about Caldwell coming to these realizations.

Pre-orders start at the end of the year but it is never too early to get excited about an interesting young writer. A couple excerpts from the book are below and you might also enjoy Chloe’s essay, at The Rumpus, a really moving piece about where she writes.


Presses & Web Hype / 68 Comments
May 15th, 2011 / 12:19 pm

4 4 the 4ace

1. Two new Dorothea Lasky poems at The Awl!
2. 500 people with shovels relocate a sand dude at Ubu!
3. Interview with Kevin Sampsell at Rain Taxi!
4. Jesus christ!

Roundup / 16 Comments
May 27th, 2010 / 3:47 pm

5 for Freakin

1. Kevin Sampsell’s Book Notes playlist for A Common Pornography, in the style of Joe Brainard @ Large Hearted Boy
2. Alissa Nutting’s writing desk in Las Vegas @ Las Vegas Weekly
3. Lindsay Hunter fucks up some baby @ Everyday Genius
4. Forte Magazine is wtf.
5. Friday po it up with that trunk

Roundup / 14 Comments
April 30th, 2010 / 1:20 pm

Kevin Sampsell Week (4): A Common Interview by Michael Kimball

Kevin Sampsell lives in Portland, Oregon and works at Powell’s Books. He started the press, Future Tense Books, in 1990 and has published many writers including Mike Topp, Zoe Trope, Chelsea Martin, Susannah Breslin, Elizabeth Ellen, and Claudia Smith. His own books include Portland Noir (as editor), Creamy Bullets, and A Common Pornography. Harper’s Magazine says, “Sampsell’s talent for observing the ordinary….is perhaps best displayed in chronicling the cringing inelegance of adolescent sexuality: the embarrassing hookups, the acne-cream-flavored kisses, the obsession with pornography, and the preoccupation with discarding one’s virginity.” And Jonathan Ames says, “This is the kind of book where you want to thank the author for helping you feel less alone with being alive.”

Michael Kimball: One of the most striking things about A Common Pornography is the way you lay yourself bare on the page. There are so many awkward, funny, difficult, honest, and maybe embarrassing episodes in the book. How did you get to a place where you were able to do that and what was your mindset as you approached each episode (maybe especially as compared to your mindset writing fiction)?

Kevin Sampsell: It’s mainly a matter of time going by. I’m 42 now. You just get to the point where you don’t really care if other people are bothered or feel uncomfortable with whatever you’re writing. I always think it’s weird when people say, ‘I didn’t like this book because it was so depressing or so dirty.’ I don’t think an author should treat readers like children, or like they have to protect the reader. Personally though, it was hard sometimes to let go of some of these things that I didn’t tell anyone about. I didn’t even tell my girlfriend, now my fiancé, about the prostitute stuff until a couple of years ago. The dilemma I think most writers have is that they don’t care about embarrassing themselves but they do worry about how their family or co-workers or lovers will react.

Compared to fiction, it’s maybe a little harder. At least with fiction you can say to your mom or whomever, ‘Oh, I just made that up.’


Author Spotlight / 15 Comments
February 25th, 2010 / 1:34 pm


[part one is here]

There’s a little girl sitting in the children’s section of Skylight Books reading a picture book; she looks about six or seven.  (Too old to be reading a picture book.  What the fuck?  I was reading Bunnicula by that age.)  I’m sitting in the back of the audience, so I can see into that section of the bookstore.  Kevin Sampsell, who is reading from A Common Pornography, can’t.  He doesn’t know that the little kid is listening to him read about the time he had manual sex with a stranger in the back of a porn shop.

Kevin Sampsell corrupting small child (courtesy Sabra Embury)


Author Spotlight / 36 Comments
February 24th, 2010 / 1:13 pm

Kevin Sampsell Week (2): Smorgasboard

For day 2 of Kevin Sampsell week, I’d like to collect some various KS/A Common Pornography pornographalia from around the web and elsewhere. Below you’ll find some video, some review snippets, another excerpt from the memoir, and everything else to keep your Sampsell buzz afloat. If this turns out to be not enough, you can always peruse Kevin’s website, a free-flowing form of fun and e-orgasm. Hit it!

Kevin reads from ACP at the In The Flesh Reading Series 2-18-10

***** 5 Star review for ACP from Time Out New York: “…Sampsell shares loneliness with such intensity that his book almost defeats it—both his and yours.”

– A Sampsell short story (not in the memoir) from 52 Stories, “Jailbreak.”

Pillow Talk Episode 1: Kevin interviews our own Mike Young (produced & edited by Bryan Coffelt)

– A review of ACP on Blogcritics: “… The structure of A Common Pornography is narrative genius.”

…. and, lastly, for today, pg. 75 of A Common Pornography:


Dad gave me a vibrator once. Sort of oval-shaped. He gave it to me so I could wrap it and give it to Mom as a birthday present. Later, they kept it in a drawer by the bed. Then, shortly after, they slept in separate beds.

Author Spotlight / 22 Comments
February 23rd, 2010 / 1:43 pm