Welcome, Kamden Hilliard!

This month we are featuring the poets and writers who have signed with us since last summer—all writers who submitted work during one of our two annual open reading periods.
Today we bring you Kamden Hilliard, whose chapbook perceived distance from impact is due out next spring.

The Author152

Kamden Hilliard is author of the chapbook distress tolerance (Magic Helicopter Press, 2016) and resists colonization. They got good vibes from The Ucross Foundation, Callaloo, VSC, and The Davidson Institute. Kamden prefers Kam and is an Editor at Jellyfish Magazine. Find Kam’s work in Black Warrior Review, Redivider, Word Riot and other sunspots. They have no chill and wonders if you’ve got some to spare.

The Book

Where did you write the book?
I wrote the largest spates of perceived distance from impact in Hong Kong, actually. I was there for the summer and something about being so disjunctive (6’3 / Black / Queer / American) pushed me to write these longer lined / longer poems. The chapbook also contains a series of film poems (one of which appears at Banango Street)– these were written in Hawai’i during the better parts of a film lecture.
What is your favorite memory from working on this manuscript?
The best moment might have been when BLP accepted the chapbook for publication. Kit Frick (Hi, Kit!) sent me a wonderful acceptance email and then questioned if the working title (The Catalogue Poems) was, in fact, working. I love Kit for that, haha.
How did you know that the book was done and ready to send out?
I don’t really think in terms of revision but rather bringing the poem closer to its ideal form. I think a poem, picture, book, etc. is complete when it’s closest to it’s ideal form.
What’s on your reading list for this summer?
My summer reading is sporadic! But here ya go: Currently A People’s History of the United States, Zinn / Next: Louise Gluck’s Collected Works. 🙂



how many times can we say drought, California? a lot.
look who’s dreaming now. guess we shoulda read our Steinbeck
a bit more closely, hm? these grape flavors aren’t sour, but sick
on fire. i mean, you do know that it’s all desert all the time
out here, right? well then, maybe this is just desserts
the desert acting like the motherfuckin’ desert. it all stabilizes.
the stops-up goes runny, passes go, collects two hunnit
dollars and ain’t worth a dam. the river riverrun gone, get it?
get ‘em? in five million or so fiscal rotations, the Earth wins.
eats our dust, nylons, whatever we left inside the L.A. river.
if Bruce Lee is like water and water is lazy as fuck, i think
you get my wide spindrift toward paradise. water is all about
that path of least resistance, and dear ol’ Bruce strolls ‘cross
the poor extra’s faces. those veined arms gettin’ me crossfaded.
‘cause, who writes a poem ‘bout California without the movies?
lights, camera: traction. the bloodless violence of box office sales:
          here, ladies, is how ya lady leg
          one after the other and hairless. careful
          are the nair-less and don’t you want to be careless?
          carefree colored girl of mine.
originally, the HOLLYWOODLAND sign.
originally, also Mexico. also
territory: fire hydrant hot for piss.
originally, torrential sun. the shining
state. what Huck Finn meant–where he
was finna go. good grand
do not go beyond this point,
the trail is not maintained.
the stars are rowdy and it’s your fault, Cali-
-fornication. what did you expect? even Jack Jack
in A Few Good Men (1992) is crazy with heat. WHAT
irrigation, i’d assume. would imagine. a reconstitution
of resources. reduce reuse–ah fuck it.
you left enough to water the oranges and weaken the whiskey.
but i know, i know: The Redwoods, “Santa Monica.”
but a bad asshole spoils the bushel.