Upper Level Disturbances
Center for Literary Publishing 2012
Kevin Goodan‘s latest book of poems, Upper Level Disturbances (Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University, 2012), directly challenges modern society in at least one respect: the poems exist as a result of humility, the opposite of boasting which our culture rewards. In the poems, we’re introduced to a speaker whose daily experiences – which involve working dangerously or dangerously at rest – seems nearly shorn of his fellow human beings, and in fact it often feels that his poems might be the only communication he has with anyone beyond the forest and fires and rivers and beasts that populate his verse. Ultimately, however, Kevin Goodan is a poet who is generously private: his voice is totally singular in expression (no one sounds like him), but also belongs to us. We might not entirely relate to his physical labor, his actual work that is represented in these poems, but his spiritual labor and work is undoubtedly our own. But perhaps what is most powerful about these poems, poems haunted by the natural and immaterial worlds, is that the poet – unlike most of us – is fiercely inner-directed: acting in the world not based on established norms, but moving according to his own morality, calibrated and re-calibrated by suffering and grace. In our conversation we talk about growing up on the Flathead Indian reservation in Montana, his work in forestry and firefighting, his eventual path towards poetry, and so much more. I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did.