100 Colorado Creatives: Poet Ken Arkind
#78: Ken Arkind
Ken Arkind embodies what's important in the slam and performance poetry world: A literary poet, dedicated slam coach and microphone virtuoso both here and abroad, he lives and breathes the poet's life with an educator's focus. As much as he lives it, he's also interested in passing on what he knows to younger versions of himself as the executive director of Minor Disturbance, Denver's youth-slam poetry organization. And though co-coach Mary McDonough is leading the national team this year, he'll be at Su Teatro at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, cheering on those kids as they compete in a final Grand Slam to determine who will represent Minor Disturbance this summer at the 2013 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival in Chicago. In the meantime, Arkind and fellow poet/artist Charly Fasano have released a collaborative chapbook, Denver, and he promises more poetry-in-print on the way in the near future.
We asked Arkind to answer our 100CC questionnaire; read on to learn what he thinks about life and poetry.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Ken Arkind: Oscar Wilde. He always had the right answer.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
G. Yamazawa. He's a poet from Bull-Durham, young and very honest. He's just really good at telling stories, and I am very excited to see how he develops as an artist.
Also Wheel Chair Sports Camp, Ruby Kid and Angel Nafiz.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
This insane rush of over-produced, watered-down Americana art bands. Somehow banjos have become the universal sign of mediocrity. It's just boring to me. Don't get me wrong, there are people who have done it well. But mostly it's just boring. I grew up on punk rock. Punk is all about energy, at least it should be. When it's all about energy, there is no room for BS -- it simply doesn't fit. When I listen to some of these smiling folkadelic hipsters with great haircuts and non-biodegradable yoga mats, I feel like I'm being spoken down to, like you'd still whisper behind my back in the lunchroom. I just don't trust it. Music needs to be a bit subversive to me; half these groups feel like they're shaking my hand while looking someone else in the eye.
What's your day job?
Is Westword hiring?
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I would fully fund Denver Minor Disturbance so that we could work with as many Colorado youth as possible, in as many places as possible, while paying our staff what they deserve. The kinds of kids who need creative outlets most often come from the places that can least afford it. Sometimes, we will work with a school or a group because we want to, and the facilitator won't get paid. It would be great to be fully funded so that we can go anywhere at any time. On a personal level, I would pretty much carry on what I am doing. I think the goal of making a living off of your art should be having more time to simply focus on it. The only difference would be health-care.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Bring it to the kids!
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
I'm a pretty big fan of Lance Stack. Woody Roseland is my personal hero. Also Adam Lerner. We did Tedx Mile High together, and I tried talking to him afterwards, and it was awkward.. Also, Tony Garcia and everyone over at Su Teatro; those guys are awesome.
What's going on for you in the rest of 2013?
Another book of poetry, a full collection from Penmanship Books; touring, Minor Disturbance. Looking forward to our new partnership with Flobots.org this year and the youth media studio. Also, water slides. I've been thinking a lot about water slides and trying to petition Water World to bring back Thunder Bay as it should be.
Who are we going to be hearing about in local poetry this year?
Mary McDonough. `Nuff said.
Throughout the year, we'll be featuring 100 superstars from Denver's creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
Who rocks your world locally? Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.