An Interview w/ Reject Convention author Paul Koniecki

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conducted by Says the Speck (KJP 2016) author: Elly Finzer

Kleft Jaw (Elly Finzer):  Hi. Who are you and why?

Paul Koniecki:  I’m a Yankee in the South. I’m an artist trapped in the body of a truck driver’s son. I’m a poet, gulp, because my favorite moments in life have come when I’ve been lucky enough to say exactly the perfect thing at the perfect time to help someone. I think I’m a huge fan of Bolano because of the whole feeling of being permanently displaced ( and a love for telling the status quo to fuck off ).

KJ:  What is your favorite fish (to catch, eat, or watch)?

PK:  Starfish (pink or brown) – sorry, really sorry

KJ:  DC or Marvel?

PK:  Marvel – Invisible Woman is it for me

KJ:  Which of the evils in Pandora’s box are your favorites?

PK: choice – choice is a wicked privilege midwife of the wise – not unlike this answer (eesh)

(I wanted Turtlehead poetry showcase or The Hole in the wall Gang but was outvoted)

KJ: Poetry becomes outlawed, and you are exiled from the U.S.—where do you go? Who do you live with and why? 

PK:  Ryder Collins and I start a socialist paradise/autonomous collective/poetry commune/ air b&b in an abandoned  Rathskeller  in Quito Ecuador so I can be closer to the ghost of Osvaldo Guayasmin  and no one ever, ever goes cold, hungry, or poetry deprived again – really ever

KJ:  Preferred method of writing: typed on computer, or old-fashioned pen-and-ink? 

PK:  I have , no kidding, a super-regimen that involves paper and pencil, then paper and sharpie, then a iPhone note, then 3 emails (2 to myself and 1 to a secret love) same writing desk, same lamp, same earbuds blasting mood music – same hours of the day – everyday 

KJ:  Which feels more natural to you: the solitariness of writing, or the public performance of poetry? Why?

PK:  I recently ended a poem that I love like a lover, ” I want to die writing you a poem” so I’m possessed to write – it hammers over and over again a huge huge pleasure center deep in my brain – i perform to see and interact and touch humans I care for and about and I perform especially if there’s a female I want to impress – I’m actually a tremendously arrested adolescent 7th grader handing you one of those notes folded with the choices – you know the one – pick one

KJ:  If we could resurrect dead artists, who should paint you? 

PK: Frida Kahlo – Osvaldo Guyuasamin – and Goya please Goya 

KJ: You have a photo of a Nietzsche quote in your Facebook album: we have art in order not to die from the truth. This is an interesting juxtaposition to your poems, which seem to be steeped in reality. What are your thoughts on the intersection of truth and art?

PK:  I wrote faith is absence like you only have to have faith in something if it isn’t there – I’m desperately caught up trying to make my truth, my reality through an art ( and poetry is such a fucking hard art to get good at ) beautiful – I can save everyone if I can just find the right word

KJ:  There are two particular places that shaped your latest collection—tell me more about Wisconsin and Texas. Are the places themselves indelible? Or is it the people who roamed through your life in those places that have had a more lasting impact on your writing?

PK:  Wisconsin is the circus I ran away from. Texas is the circus I ran away to. Like Ain’t them bodies saints or No country for old men a lot of those people are still alive so from 1986 to 2011 I was a ghost poet and if you got something from me it was bad-ass, one of a kind and never to be seen again. Over the last few years some amazing artists like Teresa Megahan and Joe Milazoo convinced me to leave evidence at the scene of the crime. So I got two words for you – Rolo Tamasi

KJ:  You’re going to complete a residency in New York this summer—what do you hope to take away from the experience? Have you ever participated in a program like this before? 

PK:  The Writers Garret and Wordspace are two long running programs that are similar to the Ashbery program I’ll do this summer and similar to the experience I had in Ireland last year at the Fermoy International Poetry Festival. I won’t bore you with famous names but steel sharpens steel – and when you’re hanging out with the Gabriel Ricard, Frankie Metro, Ryder Collins’, you learn and you grow and you steal, and you know whose shit don’t stink.

KJ:  What sets you apart in the sea of poets dominating the American literary landscape right now? (and haha at dominating…I know, it’s just poetry). 

PK:  A gorgeous cover of the immortal Roberto Bolano killin time and my own enormous EQ[ego quotient?]

KJ: Where do you see yourself as a poet within the next few years? Besides Reject Convention, do you have any other projects in the works? 

PK: Half the year in Hawaii – half in Dallas. I have an insane amount going but my favorite current work is a 700 page one poem homage to Frank Stanford’s Battlefield Where the Moon says I love you- all about the earthquake in Haiti and the return of Jesus that no one noticed

KJ:  Epitaph for your eco-friendly tree-urn grave marker: 

PK:  Died tragically rescuing his family from the wreckage of a destroyed battleship


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