Kevin B. King, Poet, Brentwood, NH
The Brentwood house that Kevin King lives in was built in the 18 th and 19 th centuries. His small office is in the 18 th century section and is where he works in the winter. Of the room’s tendency to be cold, the New Haven, CT native says, without a trace of irony, “It helps keep me alert.” In the summertime he prefers to do his work in the screened-in deck where he can look out on a beautiful garden and be serenaded by birdsong.
King’s passion for poetry began in the fifth grade when he came across a poem in an issue of RedBook. He only remembers that the poem involved “an immoveable object meeting an unstoppable force,” but that was enough to spark a lifelong interest. He later discovered the narrative epic poem Sohrab and Rustum by Matthew Arnold, which tells of a similar encounter. He fell in love with the sounds of the improbable names of characters, such as Ivan Skavinsky Skivar and Abdul Abulbul Amir. Initially, he said, it was these tales of desert fighting, swordplay and derring-do “that appealed to an 11 year old.” In high school he tried his hand at writing some poetry of his own and his first published poem appeared in his high school’s magazine.
In spite of its difficulty, he feels that writing poetry is a kind of survival, “it’s a way that I cope with the world.” He explains, “You get your demons out and confront them and try to make sense of the world through writing.” He is sometimes surprised by the connections between seemingly unrelated incidents or people that take shape in his own writing, but discovers, “just where and how we connect to others in a way that’s meaningful.” King’s poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, the Threepenny Review and Minnesota Review and he has received awards for his poetry from The Plum Review, The Hollins Critic and The Meredith Poetry Exchange.
In addition to poetry, King wrote fiction in his youth and in high school won a writing prize for what he describes as a “Salinger-esque story of a student’s failure.” The story was a response to a teacher’s retort to a student who asked if the class could have the option of writing fiction instead of the assigned essay. The teacher replied with a sneer and said, “As if one of you will ever become a novelist…” King felt challenged and wrote a satire about the incident. Shortly after the story was published, the teacher left the school and King still wonders if his accurate portrayal had anything to do with it.
King’s two novels involve pivotal baseball history. All the Stars Came Out That Night (Dutton, 2005) is inspired by the story of the negro baseball leagues during the days of segregation in major league sports. His forthcoming novel, The Birth of the Curse, is about Babe Ruth’s career with the Red Sox.
King was a finalist in the 2002 James Jones First Novel Competition. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Holy Cross College and has completed 21 credits for a Master of Arts in English Literature at Harvard University’s Extension and Philosophy at University of South Carolina. He is currently a writing instructor for non-native speakers of the English language (ESL) at NH Technical College and Northern Essex Community College. Kevin King and his wife Ellen Wolff, who teaches English at Philips Exeter, live with their seven-year-old son Aidan. This is his first Fellowship from the State Arts Council.
to 2007 Fellows page
July 26, 2006