Snapshot: Kiely Sweatt
Photo: Lee Woolcock
“We are suffering/ under our garden weeds/ and my forts of gold.” –Kiely Sweatt
Name (Including all the names you are called by)
Kiely Sweatt (Kyles Myles Dumont, Kiely Cakers, Kai, Kdog)
Address (past, present future)
Past: Too many to name
Present : Brooklyn, NY
Future: Both legs in NY, my arms in South America, my heart in Spain and my blonde hair in Stockholm.
What you like?
Weather: Pants and a t-shirt no umbrella weather.
Describe your world as you see it.
Inner: A circus.
Outer: A labyrinth filled with circus acts.
Pride: That I do everything I set my mind to.
a) animate: Space, plants, humans
b) inanimate: Books, pictures, art
1) To be happy
2) To learn French
3) To find my place as a writer and in my current work.
Hi Kiely, congrats on your beautiful debut book, origin of (Patasola Press 2013)! How long did you spend writing it? Can you talk a little bit about your writing process? Did you already have the idea of the book in mind and write poems towards it, or did you take individual poems and shape them into this book?
A lot of the book was written during graduate school. I then completely abandoned it, moved to Spain and about 3 years later revisited it with a wonderful Catalan editor. We managed to pull it all together in about 2 months. I think most of the poems were there but I couldn’t tell where it was going. I needed that time away to see it.
Patasola Press is a relatively new press, so how did you wind up working with them for Origins Of? Did you submit to a contest or an open reading?
I e-met Lisa Marie Basile, founder of Patasola Press, in 2011. She is part of the Poetry Brothel. When I finished my book, Lisa asked me to submit to Patasola and accepted it almost immediately. I liked the work she was publishing and thought it would be a good home for my first book.
Shortly after completing grad school, you decided to move to Barcelona. What attracted you to Barcelona, and for how long did you live there? How different was your life in Barcelona compared to your time in NYC?
I have had a love affair with Spain ever since I was 18, when I did a study abroad. After I finished grad school and realized I wasn’t going anywhere particularly interesting with my life I pulled out the map of Spain, closed my eyes and pointed to Barcelona. I gave myself a three-month window to find a job and a place to stay. When my mother dropped me off at the airport it was a strange feeling to not know when I would be back. She was incredibly supportive.
I lived in Barcelona 5 years. My life in there is incomparable to NYC.
While living in Barcelona, did you meet and interact with any poets?
Barcelona bleeds poets, artists, musicians… it’s easy to find if you want to. To help me feel more connected to any poetry scene, however, I started up a version of the Poetry Brothel, which had only just gotten off the ground in NY. The intention was just to workshop poetry with a group of people. In one year I went from my living room and 2 poets, to a rotating cast of 15, and sold out venues. With this, I gained a lot of press, which made it easy to meet poets and, in particular, gain more attention from the Catalan poetry scene.
Now that you are back in the United States and living in Brooklyn, do you have a writing schedule?
My work week is pretty demanding so I save most of my writing for the weekends.
Since the release of the book, you’ve managed to do a few readings. Where have been so far? Any upcoming readings planned?
I’ve done some readings in NY for Earshot, The Poetry Festival, Poetry Brothel and most recently in Philadelphia for Jubilant Thicket. I don’t have any readings coming up, but will be doing a performance collaboration with Ryan Doyle May for Atlas Review in February.
What’s next, or what are you currently working on?
I’m working on a new chapbook.
Would you rather be in the cast of Friends, Game of Thrones, or Parks and Recreation?
Game of Thrones.
Who or what were you in your past life?
Since you do a bit of traveling, what would you consider to be your ideal vacation?
Vacation and travel for me are two different things. Vacation would be the beach, nature and nobody around. Traveling would be somewhere that makes me feel like I know nothing about the world.
What’s the last song that got stuck in your head until it drove you to the point of distraction?
It’s a tie between Trust “Candy Walls” and Marcel Rocel “Love Me.”
If you were in a band would you be the lead singer/rhythm guitarist, lead guitarist, bass player, keyboards, or the drummer?
Funny you should ask, but I just started a band. I’m the bass player.
Tell me more about your band. Do you have a name? Are there any notable influences?
No band name yet. I always liked the name Tiger Meat, but maybe for something else. The band is made up of girls, guitars, drums and a violin. Most of us, except me are musicians by trade, and other bands. I’d say we are influenced a lot by punk, minimalism, rock and performance art.
Romantic lead in a comedy, crazy killer in a Tarantino-type flick, or that “one” in a sci-fi feature who inspires hope by swearing earth is out there and you’re going to lead them to it?
Crazy killer in a Tarantino-type flick.
I tell people Aries. But I’m really a Taurus.
Final question, if you were a body of water would you be an ocean, the sea, a river, a lake, a pond, or a creek?
Kiely Sweatt started Prostibulo Poetico and is the editor of Libro Rojo. Her poetry has in Best American Poetry blog, Shampoo, La Fovea, BCN Ink and Vimeo among others. Origin of, her first book, was published in 2012 by Patasola Press and “A Home Big Enough for Remembering,” with Dancing Girl Press. She lives in Brooklyn and works as a Producer at Hyper Island.
Steven Karl is the author of Dork Swagger (Coconut Books) and the Features Editor for Coldfront Magazine. He lives in Miami, FL.