Getting To Know Kevin Hogan and his New Book My Ríastrad
When did you first encounter poetry? How did you discover that you wanted to write poems?
I was born the only child to Boston Irish Catholic parents told they’d never conceive.
I was given Yeats, Frost, and Dickinson instead of brothers or sisters.
I grew up a conundrum to many but not all.
I wrote poetry when I discovered how something feels is often more important than what it is.
Do you have a writing routine? A favorite time or place to write?
I have a daily ritual that’s as vital to me as breathing.
I light incense for those who cannot.
I make strong fresh coffee.
I smell, listen, remember, and let go.
I bound after my thoughts but always have a dog nearby to guide me home.
Where do your poems most often come from—an image, a sound, a phrase, an idea?
I tear up when sunlight hits my eyes through trees that once served as perches for William Blake’s angels.
I do not search out poetry so much as it searches out me after I’ve exhausted all other forms of communication.
I enjoy the weightless nausea that comes with the reverie of language when a word twists anew with endless surprise.
Which writers (living or dead) do you feel have influenced you the most?
William Butler Yeats
Tell us a little bit about your new collection: what's the significance of the title? are there over-arching themes? what was the process of assembling it? was is a project book? etc.
My Ríastrad tells an intensely personal story of my high-profile stigmatization and international branding as “The Porn Star Teacher.” In five deeply emotional movements, it shines a spotlight on my brutally public outing, a life-altering homecoming in the LGBTQ community, and an intimate discovery of self and peace.
The mythic hero Cú Chulainn, known as the Irish Achilles, was overcome in war by a ‘battle frenzy’ or ríastrad that would allow him to single-handedly stop sieges and kill hundreds, but also left him terrifyingly disfigured and unable to distinguish friend from foe. The Irish/Gaelic word ríastrad, therefore evokes a meaning that is as much super-power as it is PTSD.
On February 14th 2015, Rennie McQuilkin, Connecticut’s Poet Laureate, drew up a publishing contract from Antrim House Books for My Ríastrad. The resulting poetry collection is a quintessential labor of love—wrought by life and its infinite ability to amaze.
Read a sample poem from My Ríastrad and view a recording here:
A LOVELIER WORLD
Just before sunrise,
Watching a hound
Dream of hunting,
I feel myself
Drawn to pursue
The thoughts of
A dissatisfied mind.
Cards on table,
The dog has
Never caught more
Than tennis balls,
But that doesn’t
Stop him from
Envisaging furrier prey.
Comforted in camaraderie,
I bound onwards,
Straining to capture
A lovelier world
With every instinct.