Interviews
March 8, 2019 posted by Unity Wellington

Gregory Kan

Gregory Kan

Check out Greg’s literary favourites below. Unity will be hosting the double poetry launch for Greg’s new poetry collection, Under Glass (AUP) along with Sugar Magnolia Wilson’s debut poetry collection, Because a Woman’s Heart is Like a Needle at the Bottom of the Ocean (AUP), 6-7:30pm Wednesday 13th March 2019. All welcome.


About the book

A colossal jungle. Two suns. The sea on fire. If the mind were a place, what might it look like? Under Glass is an ambitious new collection by one of the most exciting young poets writing today.

‘The things that are really big and really close
are too big and too close to be seen.’

Gregory Kan’s second book is a dialogue between a series of prose poems, following a protagonist through a mysterious and threatening landscape, and a series of verse poems, driven by the speaker’s compulsive hunger to make sense of things. Kan’s explorations of the outer and inner landscapes frequently cross paths but leave the reader in doubt – this is a collection full of maps and trapdoors, labyrinths and fragmented traces.

Under Glass opens up new ways of telling stories – while questioning the value of storytelling itself. Beautifully crystalline and emotionally powerful, this poetry collection takes readers on a journey that is frightening yet tender, imperfect but triumphant.

About the author
Gregory Kan’s work has featured in literary journals such as Atlanta Review, Cordite, Jacket, Landfall, New Zealand Listener, SPORT and Best New Zealand Poems, as well as art exhibitions, journals and catalogues. His first book of poetry, This Paper Boat, was shortlisted in the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.


WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE BOOK(S)?

I’m currently reading Raven Stratagem, part of the Machineries of Empire series, written by Yoon Ha Lee. A good friend of mine, Alex, recommended the series to me!

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WRITERS AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THEM?

My favourite writers at the moment are Reza Negarestani, Yoon Ha Lee, Mary Burger, Hera Lindsay Bird and Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle. Negarestani does philosophy that is surgical, straight to the bone. Lee explores concepts in his fiction that I’m very invested in myself – time, computation and identity. Burger is an incredible prose poet (who I talk a bit more about below). Bird and Butcher-McGunnigle practically helped raise me as a writer and I think they are writing some of the best poetry New Zealand has ever produced.

WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE?

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman, Intelligence and Spirit by Reza Negarestani, Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION?

Stalker, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, based on Roadside Picnic. Or Apocalypse Now, based on Heart of Darkness.

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RE-READ THE MOST AND WHY?

I don’t know if it’s actually the book I’ve re-read most but it’s probably Sonny by Mary Burger. I love many things about it. One of these is its incredible form and architecture on the scale/level of the book. An incredible interweaving of different histories, identities and concepts. It’s been a big influence on my own work.

WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY CHARACTER?

All iterations of the biologist from the Southern Reach trilogy.

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN MEANING TO READ BUT STILL HAVEN’T GOTTEN AROUND TO?

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.

WHICH THREE WRITERS WOULD YOU HAVE OVER FOR DINNER?

I don’t like the idea of meeting my idols. I wouldn’t be able to function.

WHAT WOULD YOU COOK THEM?

I’m obsessed with the Japanese tamago sando. It’s an egg sandwich. But imagine: the fluffiest omelette, slightly sweet, crumbed and deep fried, nestled with cabbage so thinly diced it’s frothy, and Japanese mayonnaise, within the whitest white bread you can find.

HOW ARE YOUR BOOKS SHELVED AND ORGANISED AT HOME?

No.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY QUOTE?

Haha, this is a terrible question! I can’t answer it. Here is a quote I picked from Mary Burger’s Sonny: ‘I won’t tell you anything and then I’ll tell you everything.’


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