My Monomania is an interview series through which I work out my obsessions by interviewing the people behind them. This time, I ask KMA Sullivan of YesYes Books the questions of who what why when where and how.
2011: I met KMA Sullivan long before I met KMA Sullivan, via Powell’s Books and my discovery of some of the titles she’s put out as publisher of YesYes Books. YesYes is nothing if not a prolific publisher. Title after title, reading after reading, project after project. Each book, each issue of its online magazine Vinyl Poetry and each ebook are individual works of art. YesYes is one of the single finest publishing houses in the world, its eye always trained on the future.
One day, via the power of Facebook, which is ever-powerful of course, I met KMA. She was living in the Great State of Back East. (As a Westerner, that’s what I call anything east of the Rockies.) I realized, of course, that she is a poet, too (for how could a person have such an affinity for poetry and not be a poet?), before being a publisher and editor, but like me, after being a mother and an involved citizen of Earth. KMA Sullivan has biological children and adopted children, and has been married for nearly 30 years. She is a fine writer. Her poetry is stunning and warm and yet somehow detached as Buddha from its own experience, as though the woman is detailing all our lives and experiences through her filter of existence. Her “I” is omniscient. This goes for her essays, too. Personal? Yes, but the body from which she writes is not only her own body. A fine examples is The Dog Is Dead at the Good Men Project. She understands and speaks out through and for everybody. I don’t think I am alone in thinking so. Witness her essay Women Are Bitches, published by the Rumpus and just yesterday chosen by Huffington Post as one of the 2013 must-read essays by women.
KMA Sullivan is a beautiful grown-ass woman.
One day, she moved away from the Great State of Back East and came to Oregon. We met soon after for drinks and dinner and became immediate life-long friends. The first question I asked her was how she got to be so legit. She laughed and said, “I am? I don’t know, Dena. I don’t know.”
I realized that she is a bottomless pit of giving and energy and talent, and so I wanted to learn more and share that more with you. I think something we need to remember is that often, the most giving of people receive the least. Let’s do something to change that this year, and let’s start by celebrating KMA Sullivan. Happy New Year.
KMA Sullivan/YesYes Books. I’m not always sure where one ends and the other begins. It seems like a lifetime of reading and art and project management (teaching/community organizing/raising five children) has built an engine that fuels both my writing and my work at YesYes Books and Vinyl Poetry.
My own writing is in some sense an ode to the life I have lived and continue to live. Love and what emerges from it (confusion, joy, grief, anger, sex, fullness…) forms the center of my life and this is what I write about and write through in both poetry and essays.
The poetry and prose coming out of YesYes Books and Vinyl Poetry is fueled by that same fire. I am looking for work where everything is at stake. I have no time for writing that takes an objective stance, casts a sardonic eye on people or surroundings.
Portland, Oregon. I moved here about a year ago with my partner and our two youngest children. I’m in love. I’m in love with the construction workers who play mandolins at their lunch break. I’m in love with the potbelly pigs who are walked down the sidewalk on leashes by their owners and the roosters who walk themselves. I’m in love with the whiskey bars that have knitting nights and the barbershops that serve free beer with haircuts and the bookstore (Powell’s) that is a universe. And I’m in love with a town that would allow my son, who came out at fourteen in SW VA, to just be a kid and not a gay kid. Here he can hang out with friends, gay and straight, break hearts as he finds them, and just be his brilliant self. And I’ve been amazed by the strength and openness of the poetry community in this town. So many people to share art with, who support the work of others without guile or expectation. Portland is a place where YesYes Books will flourish and so will I.
Right now. There are so many incredibly talented and exciting poets writing right now. There are so many people who are devoting their lives to the creation and production and public access to art. Poetry, prose, visual art, performance art—they have never been more important to the health and growth of the human spirit than they are right now.
Because I can, because I must, because I am blessed to have the freedom and resources to read and write and
think and support the art and literature I believe in and am lit on fire by.
With the help and support of so many including my family that works to keep open the space I need to write, the editors at YesYes Books and Vinyl Poetry who devote themselves to our projects, the artists who generously offer their work to YesYes and Vinyl.