Kristin Prevallet

2004 EP. NO. 8
KRISTIN PREVALLET is a poet, essayist, and translator who works in the tradition of Charles Olson’s Curriculum of the Soul in both her writing and teaching projects. Born in Denver and raised by her mother, a radical feminist Catholic nun, Prevallet’s literary focus has been around ways of integrating political consciousness into what she calls “conceptual poetics.” She has reinvented the cut-up/collage form to perform political and social readings of ordinary life. It is the manifestation of life, torn to shreds and reassembled by the tender furies of clarity and insight, that makes Prevallet’s multifarious poetic talent remarkable. Everything is grist for Prevallet’s mill: the daily news, dreams, mundane details, extreme states of consciousness. Hers is the mysterious force that lives under all unnoticed things.

As Nick Bredie writes: “I find Kristin’s poetry confusing. It is political, yet playful; surreal yet sensitive; its language is personally lyric yet vastly artificial. It refuses to fit into neat boxes of school or methodology. Instead it resides in that un-resolved limbo of possibility. Anything can enter into Kristin’s poems, and they can take any form. In that way they are dreamlike, plastic, subject to the world with all its personal and political discontents, ordinary detritus, emotional ups and downs and yet bending it into language that is both unreal and urgent. And it seems, in a world where the government conducts information warfare on its own populace, being unreal may be the only way to be urgent.”

Completing her undergraduate studies at the Universtiy of Colorado, Prevallet was a student of Edward and Jenny Dorn, Stan Brakhage, and Lorna Dee Cerventes. In 1992, she moved to New York City where she studied with Bernadette Mayer at St. Mark’s Poetry Project. From there, she moved to Buffalo where she studied in the Poetics Program at the University of Buffalo with Charles Bernstein, Robert Creeley, and Susan Howe. For her masters thesis at the University of Buffalo, she worked with Dr. Robert Bertholf and Mike Basinski in the Poetry/Rare Books Collection cataloguing the archive of Helen Adam.

Prevallet has published a number of chapbooks and has three full length collections: Shadow Evidence Intelligence (Factory School 2006); Scratch Sides: Poetry, Documentation, and Image-Text Projects (Skanky Possum, 2002); Perturbation, My Sister: A Fiction of Max Ernst’s Hundred Headless Woman (First Intensity Pr., 1997) In Scratch Sides, Prevallet compiles poetry, documentation and image-text projects which present the reader with work that is not only linguistically and emotionally charged but also visually stimulating. In this and in all her works is the implicit belief that poetry is a form of knowledge. Her poem, “Lead, Glass and Poppy,” is a riveting work incorporating past and present news stories into what she calls a “millennial convergence poem.” Her essays and poetry have appeared in several magazines including Jacket, Chain, Poetry New York, Poets and Writers, Conjunctions, Bombay Gin and The Chicago Review, with numerous essays and poetry posted on the Internet.

Prevallet is constantly experimenting and pushing boundaries. From 1994-1997, she served as one of four editors of apex of the M, a literary magazine that published six issues of exciting work from both emerging and more established writers. apex succeeded in providing a context for alternative poetry by presenting it alongside essays, book reviews, archival material and infamous provocative editorials. Since then she has worked on many editorial projects, most recently the website MaterialWord.com, an online journal for Word&Image study.

In her ongoing work as editor of the Helen Adam papers, Prevallet unearthed a lost oeuvre of visual collage, and a hitherto unknown relation between the ballad tradition (of which Adam was a master) and modernist technique. She recently compiled and edited a selected edition of Helen Adam’s ballads and collages, called The Helen Adam Reader, which is forthcoming from the National Poetry Foundation. Her essay “The Worm Queen Emerges: Helen Adam and the Forgotten Ballad Tradition” was published in the anthology Girls Who Wore Black: Women Writing the Beat Generation (Rutgers Univ. Press, 2002).

Prevallet is currently collaborating with collage artist Holli Schorno’ on a project called The User’s Manuel for Mechanics. She continues to work diligently on developing curriculum that integrates art and writing for courses ranging from grade school to college; she co-edited Third Mind: Creative Writing Through Visual Art, with Tonya Foster (Teachers & Writers, 2002), an anthology of essays about the challenges and rewards of uniting art and writing in the classroom.

A recipient of the 2004 PEN Translation Award for her work translating the Congolese writer Sony Labou Tansi, Prevallet currently is on the faculty for the Institute for Writing Studies at St. John’s University in Queens, NY. She is an associate for Bard College’s Institute for Writing and Thinking, and teaches for the online MFA program at Naropa University as well as Bowery Arts & Science, Ltd.. Her website is www.kayvallet.com.

Last updated 2009.

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