Argento Series by Kevin Killian / ISBN 97817939364922 / 104-page paperback, 5.75 x 8.26 inches, published in 2023 by Pilot Press
Reprinted for the first time in over twenty years, Kevin Killian’s first book of poetry is an audacious, operatic dive into the darkest recesses of the AIDS crisis.
In 1991, Killian reported he was “frozen, unable to think of a way to write about AIDS crisis”. A year later, his friend Kathy Acker suggested the “films of Dario Argento as a prism through which to take apart horror of living and dying in AIDS era”. The result is Argento Series [first published in 2001 by Krupskaya] framing Killian’s real-life experience of losing his friends and lovers to the disease through the camera lens of Italian horror filmmaker, Dario Argento. Here, AIDS is cast as the horror film monster, wreaking cold, unfeeling chaos and destruction wherever it finds itself.
Blending a chilling, impersonal observation of death with Killian's typical high camp, tenderness and O'Hara-like wit, the poems use unflinching honesty and gallows humour to devastating effect. In Argento Series, Killian finds expression for a crisis, and moment in history, that changed everything, forever.
With a foreword by Derek McCormack. Cover by Hedi El Kholti.
Kevin Killian (1952-2019) was a San Francisco-based poet, novelist, playwright, and art writer. Recent books include Fascination: Memoirs and the poetry collections Tony Greene Era and Tweaky Village. He is the coauthor of Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance, the first biography of the important US poet. With Dodie Bellamy, he coedited Writers Who Love Too Much: New Narrative Writing, 1977–1997. He died in 2019.
Praise for Argento Series:
'Here is Kevin Killian, pounding with bloodied fists on Poetry’s door. My heart swells with pride as I claim his masterpiece for our beleaguered city. Argento Series is Kevin’s Lament for the Makers, a monument reaching half-way to the stars for our fallen stars and every big dream of the world lost to AIDS.’ — Robert Glück
‘Lush, tossed off and incisive, there's no other American poet who lived more vividly on the page of his time and its culture—center, edges all of it. Kevin's Argento Series is a treat and a complete fact. Grab this volume, fast.’— Eileen Myles
‘High weirdness, thorny beauty, cruel loss – it's all here, in Kevin's voice, and always will be. We will never stop needing this book.’ — Anne Boyer