Tag Archives: Kevin Pilkington

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Kevin Pilkington

Lucky Man

On the corner of Second Avenue
waiting for the light to turn
red, my legs begin to vibrate
then my hands. I almost run
to the ER three blocks away
until I realize I’ve been standing
over the subway and the No. 4
on its way uptown. I calm down
and relax knowing by the time
it reaches Fourteenth Street I’ll be cured.
When the light turns, I wait
a few moments since I hate
change, adjust to the new color,
then hurry across the street.

A new deli has signs stuck on
its windows advertising soda,
beer and heroes. I don’t need
drinks and I doubt if Michael Jordan
is in stock, who would be worth
the $4.50 to help me with my jump
shot. I lean against a meter to decide
where to go then put a quarter
in it when a cop walks by
to prove I’m not loitering now
that I parked. It turns out
I am thirsty; even with ten
minutes left on the meter, I head
for the bar at the end of the block.

As soon as I take a seat
my mind finally cracks but I don’t
panic and when it happens
again, I’m relieved its only
a pool game in the back room.
I’m proud that I didn’t panic
or lose my head this time.
To celebrate I make sure all
the beers I order lose theirs.

On my way home, I pass
the tenement near Third, the tall
one with at least six stories,
the top three I never even read.
Sitting on the steps a guy
thinner than my wallet, asks
if I want pussy. It reminds me
of the two kittens, a woman
on the first floor gave me, that are now
sleeping in a box in the kitchen.
When he asks again, I tell him
no thanks I have all I can handle
at home. As I cross the street
he yells, then you are a lucky
man. A couple of seconds later
it dawns on me, the sun moving
from my shoes to my eyes,
that he’s right. I am a lucky man,
a very lucky man.

Q: Where is your favorite place to write?

A: My favorite place to write is in my apartment in NYC. Although I can write anywhere, as long as I have the concentration of an ancient monk.

Q: Do you remember the first poem you read that really blew your mind?

A: Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas showed me how you can bend language and most importantly the power of imagery.

Q: What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you in the
last 12 months?

A: My nephew who is a sophomore in college and a gifted writer started his own streetwear company called Paradigm and showed me that creativity and business can actually benefit one another in the way that poetry can benefit prose writing.

Kevin Pilkington is on the full-time writing staff at Sarah Lawrence College and teaches a workshop in the graduate program at Manhattanville College. His latest poetry collection The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree was just released by Black Lawrence Press. A novel entitled Summer Shares will also appear this summer.

Kevin Pilkington at the Miami Book Fair International

On Sunday, November 21, Kevin Pilkington will read at the Miami Book Fair International. Kevin’s poetry collection The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press.

You can find more information about the event here.

National Poetry Month Wrap-Up

As April draws to a close, we’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Black Lawrence Press authors who participated in our National Poetry Month feature:

David Rigsbee, “Pilot House
Marcela Sulak, “Pomelo With Fallen Angel
Shelley Puhak, “War
T.J. Beitelman, “The Inciting Incident
Laura McCullough, “The Ellisionist
Jason Tandon, “Work
Abayomi Animashaun, “A New Religion
Carol Guess, “Kicks
Joe Wilkins, “A Roadside Diner in Iowa
Lisa Fay Coutley, “In the Carnival of Breathing
Matthew Gavin Frank, “After Il Sergente Serbo e Sua Moglie
Michele Battiste, “Nobody Leaves
Katharine Rauk, “How Many Weeks are in a Day and How Many Years in a Month?
Brent Goodman, “Another Prayer
Stefi Weisburd, “Behind My Ear is a Little Palace in Broad Daylight
Larry Matsuda, “Arc de Triomphe, 2003 Invasion of Iraq
Sandra Kolankiewicz, “Winter Sonata
Frank Matagrano, “Waiting with Alexandria for Her Mom
Hayden Saunier, “Beach
Kevin Pilkington, “Milk
Michael Hemmingson, “Sedona
Erica Wright, “Reservoir
Keith Taylor, “At the Living Creche
James Reidel, “Ave Maria afarensis
Helen Marie Casey, “Mary Dyer’s Courtship
Brad Ricca, “Workshop
Daniele Pantano, “The Oldest Hands in the World
Julia Cohen, “Panic at My Wilderness
Rachel Galvin, “In Cambium Lucida

And most importantly, thank you to everyone who read, shared, and commented on these poems — you’ve made this event a big success!

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Kevin Pilkington


On a warm night in upstate
New York during the summer
of 1948, Charlie Parker got out
of a brand new Pontiac, the bass
player from his quintet was behind
the wheel. Clubs along 57th Street
were an hour behind them. Parker
had grabbed the case with his sax
in it from the back seat and walked
out onto a field. He was off drugs,
clean for at least six months
but knew he’d never be clean
as the air he breathed.

A herd of cows watched him walk
in front of them, place the case
on the grass, open it and take out
a bent piece of sky the color of dawn.
Then he blew on it as his fingers
like a flock of small dark birds flew
up and down. The cows listened, stopped
chewing but couldn’t prevent their tails
from swinging like the Basie rhythm
section. Sounds they never heard
came out of a hole in the sky.
Then it stopped. He placed it back
in the box and walked away. Within
hours the green grass they began
chewing again turned the milk in
their bellies white.

Q: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day you wrote the above poem?

A: On the day I began writing “Milk”, I was home reading a jazz critic who related a little-known story of how Charlie Parker once got out of his car in upstate New York after a gig and played his sax to a herd of cows. I loved the story and basically related it in the poem but thought it was important to make it from the cow’s point of view in the second stanza. That is where the twist of the poem comes in.

Q: What is the last book you’ve read that made you want to grab a pen and write?

A: The last book I read that made me begin a poem was, Edward Hopper: Portraits of America by Wieland Schmied — it actually was not anything that was written but rather Hopper’s paintings of various tenements. Since I am a visual writer and his paintings have influenced me throughout the years, they reminded me of tenements on Third Avenue in New York City that were being torn down to make room for a luxury high-rise. I always feel that by doing this, they are destroying history and perhaps, a bit of Hopper’s New York City.

Q: What is the most sublime meal you’ve ever eaten?

A: Two years ago, I was in Antigua and my first night in the hotel there was a leak in the ceiling in my room. The manager felt so badly that he offered me a complimentary dinner. It was the tastiest lobster I have ever had in my life. I ate it overlooking the Caribbean and the fact that it was free made it even tastier.

Kevin Pilkington is the author of five books of poetry including The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree , forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2011.

BLP Celebrates National Poetry Month

Black Lawrence Press will celebrate National Poetry Month by featuring a poem by one of our authors every day on the blog. Each poem will be accompanied by a short Q&A with the author. Participating authors include:

Abayomi Animashaun
Michele Battiste
T.J. Beitelman
Helen Marie Casey
Lisa Fay Coutley
Matthew Gavin Frank
Rachel Galvin
Brent Goodman
Carol Guess
Sandra Kolankiewicz
Frank Matagrano
Lawrance Matsuda
Laura McCullough
Kevin Pilkington
Shelley Puhak
Katharine Rauk
James Reidel
Brad Ricca
David Rigsbee
Hayden Saunier
Marcela Sulak
Jason Tandon
Keith Taylor
Stefi Weisburd
Joe Wilkins
Erica Wright

So be sure to check the BLP blog every day in the month of April for some great reading!

Feb. 20: Four BLP Authors At The Bowery Poetry Club

Saturday, February 20th will be an all-star evening at The Bowery Poetry Club. The reading lineup includes Bruce Cohen, David Rigsbee, Marcela Sulak, and Kevin Pilkington and will be emceed by Associate Editor Angela Leroux-Lindsey.

Bruce Cohen’s book Swerve was released by Black Lawrence Press just last week. David Rigsbee, winner of the Spring, 2009 Black River Chapbook Competition, is the author of The Pilot House, which is forthcoming from BLP. Marcela Sulak’s collection Immigrant will be released later this month. And Kevin Pilkington’s The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree will be published as part of the 2011 BLP catalogue.

The event is $4 at the door and open to the public. We hope to see you there!

January 18: Kevin Pilkington & Friends Read at the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York


At 6:00PM on Monday, January 18, 2010, Kevin Pilkington, Shelley Stenhouse and Iris Lee/Norman Taffel will read at the Cornelia Street Cafe, located at 29 Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village.

For more information, call (212) 989-9319 or visit  www.corneliastreetcafe.com.

Kevin Pilkington’s poetry collection The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in early 2011.

We hope to see you there!

– The Folks at BLP

Friday at 7 PM: Kevin Pilkington Reads at Georgia Tech

This Friday at 7 PM:

Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College, The School of Literature, Communication and Culture, and Thomas Lux, the Margaret T. and Henry C. Bourne, Jr. Chair in Poetry introduce:


Kevin Pilkington’s collection of poems The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press.

This event will be held at the Academy of Medicine which is located at 875 West Peachtree Street, NW. It is free and open to the public.

Need more info? http://www.poetry.gatech.edu/events.html


The Unemployed Man Who Became A Tree

Pilkington PhotoBlack Lawrence Press is very pleased to announce the recent acquisition of The Unemployed Man Who Became A Tree, a poetry collection by Kevin Pilkington. This title will be available from BLP in 2011.

Kevin Pilkington is a member of the writing faculty at Sarah Lawrence College and teaches a workshop in the graduate department at Manhattanville College.  He is the author of six collections: his collection Spare Changewas the La Jolla Poets Press National Book Award winner and his chapbook won the Ledge Poetry Prize. His collection entitled Ready to Eat the Sky was published by River City Publishing as part of their new poetry series and was a finalist for an Independent Publishers Books Award. Another collection entitled In the Eyes of a Dog was published by New York Quarterly Books.  His poetry has appeared in many anthologies including Birthday Poems: A Celebration, Western Wind, and Contemporary Poetry of New England.  Over the years, he has been nominated for four Pushcarts and has appeared in Verse Daily.  His poems and reviews have appeared in numerous magazines including: Poetry, Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Boston Review, Yankee, Hayden’s Ferry, Columbia, Greensboro Review, North American Review, Gulf Coast, Valparaiso Review.