Getting To Know Kevin Hogan and his New Book My Ríastrad

Available now from Amazon

For years an inspiring high school English instructor, Kevin Hogan’s life irrevocably changed after an international news story branded him "The Porn Star Teacher." Since then, he has founded the Healing Stigma program, served on the Board of Directors of the Bisexual Resource Center, and twice visited the White House to meet with officials on matters of bisexual health, inclusivity, and awareness. An author, poet, radio show host, Huffington Post blogger, speaker, consultant, and LGBTQ advocate, his breakout poetry collection My Ríastrad was recently named a 2016 Lambda Literary Award Finalist.   Kevin is currently co-authoring the book Healing Stigma: A Survivor's Guide to Repairing Identity in the Internet Age with Dr. Galatzer-Levy. 

For years an inspiring high school English instructor, Kevin Hogan’s life irrevocably changed after an international news story branded him "The Porn Star Teacher." Since then, he has founded the Healing Stigma program, served on the Board of Directors of the Bisexual Resource Center, and twice visited the White House to meet with officials on matters of bisexual health, inclusivity, and awareness. An author, poet, radio show host, Huffington Post blogger, speaker, consultant, and LGBTQ advocate, his breakout poetry collection My Ríastrad was recently named a 2016 Lambda Literary Award Finalist.

 

Kevin is currently co-authoring the book Healing Stigma: A Survivor's Guide to Repairing Identity in the Internet Age with Dr. Galatzer-Levy. 

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 Blake
William Butler Yeats
Robert Frost
Emily Dickinson
Walt Whitman
Langston Hughes
Seamus Heaney
Maya Angelou
Ciarán Carson

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.