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Kay Gabriel reads from Elegy Department Spring / Candy Sonnets 1

Kay Gabriel is getting her PhD. She’s been, among a myriad of things, a Latin instructor who used to like Greek better—well, she still likes Greek—there is only one Iliad after all—but she’s been developing a fondness for the silver tongue as well. Before I recorded her, we spent—and I enjoyed—the morning drinking coffee and talking about the difficulties in translating Horace, the fluidity of Ovid, and the cruelty one must come to terms with in order to love Catullus. I’m kind of in awe of Kay because I only have a BA in Latin and Greek and she is going for her PhD. And while I have only read a handful of poems by Bertolt Brecht, Kay has just finished the collected work, about a thousand pages, and I could tell by her enthusiasm in the telling that she had relished every ravenous academic minute, ready for what comes next with all that heady stuff.

Below, Kay reads from her work in progress, Elegy Department Spring / Candy Sonnets 1, a rapid fire ravenous relishing of language as we know it, homage in part to the Warhol Superstar, Candy Darling, who was a work in progress herself. What is here is as smart and quick as the sonnets of Ted Berrigan and Bernadette Mayer, whom Kay emulates and is as comfortable with as she is with Livy and Lucretius knowing nothing much has changed as far as what is human. Time is the indents of chariot wheels in the cobblestones where cellphone users now tread looking down at text—perhaps things do change a little bit, and into this change the sonnets of Kay Gabriel fit with their own conceits like the imprint of a lipstick kiss, I suddenly think, on papyrus. Enjoy.


Elegy Department Spring / Candy Sonnets 1 is published by Boaat Press. You can check them out here:


What follows below are two Candy sonnets from the work in progress not in the chapbook.

I am the only Kay, there hasn’t been another
I never ugly-cried
can’t remember even feeling
at war with this bag of shit “hot” body
don’t have problems eating crapping going
outside or stealing food or snacks
never wore eighty-two pounds of makeup
probably never wore a single
pound of makeup at any o’clock
I teach two or three quiescent
classes and I love Candy
Darling measurably in the P.M.
never ate somebody’s dinner
never burnt the toast

First I dated handsome bisexuals,
then in medias res I joined the dead.
You can print that twice:
first I dated, dot dot dot
what else did I do with my bitchy life
I hopped into debt, then out again
I stuck my head out the window,
on the highway, for a joke
I picked a casualty—no, not that one, that one
some synapses fire and my boobs get bigger,
then smaller,
then smother a man
we’re scaling the aisle of history, right to the top
hey! you can see my house!

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