It’s been awhile since I wrote a poetry update, so here goes: You can check out these new poems in the following journals:
“Nobody’s Savior” in Book of Matches, Issue 1
“Transit” in The West Review
“The Moon in Drag” in The American Poetry Review
Just in time for Christmas! Bumble is happy that I have a poem in the newly arrived Best New Poets 2020 anthology! Special thanks to editor Brian Teare and series editor Jeb Livingood for having faith in my poem, “The Moon in Drag”.
This month I had some wonderful poetry news. A poem of mine, “The Moon in Drag” will appear in the anthology series Best New Poets 2020. I’ll post more about it when the anthology comes out. Also, another poem, “The Walk” was recently featured in the online journal Trampset. You can read it here.
“Fantastic Creatures of the Highlands” – Featuring work by Kelly McQuain
June 27th – August 14th, 2020
Grasshopper Gallery at Lost River Trading Post
295 E. Main Street
Wardensville, WV 26851
About the Artist: Kelly McQuain grew up surrounded by the lush mountains of West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest. This proved a rich source of inspiration for his artistic imagination and his development of a style influenced by folk art and laden with evocative symbolism.
These works in watercolor and acrylic reflect the artist’s practice of layering paint in different ways. “Whether on canvas or paper, I generally start a work with abstract layers of color laid down in soft washes,” McQuain states. “Then I tease out different forms based on how the washes speak to me. I try to let old layers peek through as I add new ones, conjuring figures and tiny details. It’s not my goal to transcribe nature in a realistic way. Rather, I try to find the essence of a thing and use dreamlike imagery to convey its spirit.”
Take a virtual tour below!
The result is a body of work rich with enchanting motifs. In some portraits, for instance, tiny robots appear, hinting at humankind’s need to reconcile life with technology and ever-advancing artificial intelligence. In other works, like “Fox Birds Hiding in the Brush”, a mash-up of birds and animals appear. Floral shapes also abound, evoking the exotica of the imagination as well as the wildflowers of McQuain’s youth. While McQuain is adept at painting human and animal forms, he often uses silhouettes to suggest the iconic power of his subjects. “Shape and pattern are as important to me as the richness of my colors,” McQuain notes. “I like images that pop, that have a sense of mystery and playfulness about them, that hint at stories.”
McQuain’s work hangs in many private collections. He recently displayed works at the Barnes Collection and the William Way Center in Philadelphia, the latter of which awarded him a showcase exhibit. His three-dimensional work celebrating the 200th birthday of poet Walt Whitman is currently on display at the Free Library of Philadelphia. McQuain’s portraits of writers appear regularly on the cover of the literary journal, Fjords Review—reflecting another interest of his: poetry. As a writer, McQuain’s poems have appeared in scores of national journals, and his poetry chapbook, Velvet Rodeo, won the Bloom prize. McQuain works as a professor of creative writing in Philadelphia when he’s not visiting family and friends in his home state.
UPDATE: Due to COVID-19, my artist’s talk at the Free Library of Philadelphia has been cancelled. I’ll provide updates if something changes in the future. –Kelly
So this is happening in April. Come if you can!
Join Voyages by Road and Sea featured artist Kelly McQuain in the West Gallery for an up-close look at his Whitman Sampler. McQuain will share the origin of this unique sculpture and explain the significance of its hidden parts.
What is the Whitman Sampler?
The Whitman Sampler is a box designed to delight and surprise. It became a way for me to slip inside Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and grapple anew with the good gray poet’s famous life’s work. I think of it as a visual poem, an homage to Whitman’s opus and an educational tool.
Based on an advent calendar, each box of the Sampler opens to reveal excerpts of Whitman’s verse as well as found objects repurposed to reflect and critique his text. My hope is that curious viewers will use the Sampler as a springboard for investigating Whitman’s poetry more fully. Think of it as play, a means to see how Whitman’s myriad ideas echo and resonate against each other in a visual way.
Join me Jan. 3rd at the Philly Loves Bowie art show, We Can Be Heroes. I will have a Bowie portrait for sale in the show at the National Liberty Museum.
A full list of Bowie events can be seen here.
The next William Way LGBTQ Community Center art exhibition will be “Queer-Americans: Who We Are” with art from Kelly McQuain, Amy Martin, and the artist known as alkotó. The opening reception will be Friday July 12th, 6-8 pm and the show runs through August 30th at 1315 Spruce Street, Phila. PA 19107. Amy Martin’s paintings and drawings unapologetically declare her Queer femme vision. alkotó creates multi-layer abstract paintings arising out of an inclusive process of discovery and invention. Kelly McQuain presents painted narratives addressing our hopes and despair about our relationships with technology, nature, and each other. McQuain, Martin, and alkotó were awarded this July’s exhibition as well as a cash jury prize last fall for their submissions to the LGBT center’s annual community group show.
(You may need to click the link twice)
Snowy-Day Winter Cider Recipe — Insomnia, a snowy forecast, and lemons that needed to be used caused me to experiment with this recipe at 4 am this morning. Let me know if you like it. Portions are estimated rather than precisely calculated. I cook by instinct.
Candied ginger adds a welcome zing to this winter favorite. I used Jerry’s Nuthouse crystallized ginger. If you find you prefer more or less of a particular ingredient, you can adjust the recipe accordingly. (Cinnamon, for instance, can add an additional flavor note.) The recipe’s real magic is in the sweetness of the candied ginger combining with the tartness of the lemon. Makes 4 servings.
In a Pyrex-style saucepan, warm the apple cider on Low on the stove top.
Zest the lemon with a fine zester tool. Shave only the outer layer of the lemon; avoid pieces of white pith, which can add bitterness.
Reserve the juice of the lemon.
In a small food processor or blender, such as a Magic Bullet, add 1/4 cup of the warmed cider. Then add Craisins, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Add the lemon peel and zest (if you don’t have dried lemon peel, add the zest of another lemon. The organic lemons I used were on the small side. One enormous lemon might be enough). Pulverize the ingredients until they appear almost paste-like. You want the fruit to blend into the liquid, so add more liquid if necessary. Fine bits of ginger or Craisins may still appear, but that is okay and adds a bit of pulp. If you don’t like pulpiness in your cider, blend longer. In general we are talking seconds, not minutes. A few good pulses should do. (I found a flat blade did fine in my Magic Bullet; the kind of blade I use for grinding coffee or spices. If your grinder is used for coffee, make sure it is very clean to avoid flavor-mixing!)
Add the ginger paste back to the cider on the stove top. Add the juice of your lemon. Make sure no seeds fall into the mix. Stir until blended well. Warm through. You can let it get to a low boil, but don’t overdo it. I let mine simmer for a half hour or longer. The simmer is what seems to make the ginger combine with the lemony-ness. Stir often enough that no bits of fruit cling to the bottom of the glass pot.
Serve in your favorite mugs. Add a shot of spiced rum or whisky for even more snowy-day cheer.
Tip: You can add other dried fruit if you like. Today I am adding a few chopped organic dates to the mix. You can also try apple slices, orange slices, etc. A cinnamon stick makes a fine garnish. If you like your cider sweeter, you can add a little orange juice or honey. Experiment!
*I know a lot of cider lovers float whole cloves in their brew. I don’t like their scratchy texture. If you only have whole cloves, you can grind a few in your Magic Bullet before creating your ginger paste.
–Kelly McQuain, January 2018
An Inaugural Poem, err, Song?
“Bye, Bye, My America Died”
(Sung to the tune of “American Pie”. Don McLean, forgive me.)
A long, long time ago
I can still remember how my country
used to make me smile…
And I know if I had my wish
Bernie Sanders would be the big fish
and maybe we’d be happy for a while…
But November ballots made me shiver
with every return CNN delivered:
A psycho at our doorstep.
Hillary hadn’t cinched it.
And I can’t remember if I cried
when I read about Trump’s third child bride.
But something touched me deep inside
The day America died.
So bye, bye, my America’s died.
Shoved my country to a cliffside
and that cliffside is high.
Trump’s good ole boys are drinking whiskey ‘n rye
Singing “This’ll be the day that they die!
Ground beneath his heels and his pride!”
Now did you write the book of hate
And would you help Putin masturbate
if the Russians told you to?
Now does Trump believe in rock ‘n roll?
The Boss ain’t gonna save his greedy soul.
Still gonna build his wall… just real slow…
Yes, I know we’re not in love with him,
40% approval ain’t a goddam win.
So don’t kick off your shoes.
Man, I got the Obama blues!
I’m just a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With student debt and a beat-up truck
And I know my friends are all real f*cked.
Today, my America dies.
We’ve started singing
bye, bye, our America died.
Shoved our country to a cliffside
and that cliffside is high.
Trump’s good ole boys are drinking whiskey ‘n rye,
singing “This’ll pave the way for our ride!
This’ll be the day the Left dies!”
#WritersResist #WritersResistPHL #Trump #BernieSanders #Trump
WE CAN’T GIVE UP!
WE HAVE VERSES IN US STILL LEFT TO WRITE. RESIST!
Also, whoever baked the Cthulhu pie, I love you.
Sunday’s event received some wonderful attention in the Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com. I was grateful to be a part of it, reading from Elie Wiesel’s “The Perils of Indifference”. More to come!
#WritersResist 4 (R) reps are on the fence about opposing ACA. Call them today: Takes only 2 min. Charlie Dent,PA, 202-225-6411
Adam Kinzinger, Illinois, 202 225-3635
Fred Upton, Michigan, 202-225-3761
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington, 202-225-2006
“Hi this is ____ from the state of __, encouraging you to oppose the repeal of the ACA. My friends and family that you represent need this coverage to stay healthy…”
Update from the organizers: Dear friend:When we fill the Dell Auditorium of the National Museum of American Jewish History on Sunday we’ll be part of a national chorus of resistance: in more than 50 cities in the U.S. and around the world writers will stand up for free expression, truth, and dignity. The President-elect has already made clear he will violate these central tenants of American life.
#writersresist January 15 is the date for Philadelphia Writers Resist: United for Liberty. The event is part of PEN America’s country-wide mobilization to let the Trump administration know that we writers will not back down or backtrack when it comes to human rights and civil liberties. I’ll be reading alongside many Philly friends from works that speak to empathy and justice. Nathaniel Popkin, one of the organizers, writes, “We chose the word united because this event is meant to bring us together as a literary community with abundant shared interests. We are poets, novelists, filmmakers, artists, publishers, readers, promoters, journalists, essayists, narrative non-fiction and experimental writers, editors, scholars, and translators, all to say, loudly, that we will stand for the freedoms written right here.”