Kevin Sampsell: Small Press Champion. That’s the title on his business card. Kevin works with Powell’s. The title on the card doesn’t lie: Future Tense, Kevin’s own small press, is vibrant and energetically handled; at the beginning of the reading I caught Kevin talking about his catalogue with a Skylight employee. Oh: Skylight Books, 7:30 on the 9th. That’s when & where Nick, me, Sabra & Ned met Kevin, and first heard him read from A Common Pornography.
I sat down. Kevin set up his laptop, he had said something about a slideshow. And he started: not having read ACP yet, I was impressed and warmed by the calmness instilled by the text, and Kevin’s performance. He gave equal weight to each line, each section–death, masturbation, house fire, girlfriends and ‘real girlfriends’–all was given its due. It’s as if Kevin had managed to pull up & present to you not the best or the worst moments of his recollected life, but the most poignant. And somehow he achieves a soothing equilibrium; I laughed a lot. The sentences, his delivery: all intoned with grace. That’s what Kevin Sampsell is: graceful.
The slideshow contained mostly happy but all weird-in-that-old-polaroid-way captures. His family was shown, and shown again. His old girlfriend. Yearbook photos. Kevin had really broad shoulders when he was ~12. Immediately intimidated.
Afterwards he invited Nick & I, with a few others, to join him for dinner. Dinner was a long table laid full of bread at an Indian restaurant. I sat kind of far away from Kevin; near the end of the meal he came over and sat, wanted to talk. Again: graceful. The night wrapped up late, we parted, not before Kevin & his fiancee invited me to Portland and Kevin gave me free books.
Hmm. Hard to wrap this up because it was all so damned nice. KS, his friends, his future wife, the reading… Oh: I’ll end with this. A friend promised to send me a DVD filled with Kevin’s old slam poetry performances. Kevin Sampsell Video Day, coming soon. :)
p.s. I’ll take Egon and smile. (see Nick’s post)