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An Encounter with… Poet Kaile Glick

August 26, 2012

Kaile Glick is a poet.  I met her on Brick Lane, where she was at work busking with her typewriter.  I know, imagine it.  Very curious!  A little card table.  The Smith-Corona’s cover propped against a leg, emblazoned: The Spontaneous Prose Store.  And so it was that I found our clerk sat behind her machine, cranking out the product: literally on the road, writing off the cuff, her punters supplying the title, topic or first line of their very own, prose-laced 3-by-5” sticker, and Kaile gets to record the series.  Watch her story grow.

At first I couldn’t believe I was turning around, going back to interrupt.  Reversing the pedestrian inertia, trying not to clap my hands like one of those toy monkeys with the wee cymbals.  Was I ready to talk to strangers, I thought at first, I just got stoned in the park like, two seconds ago.  Then I was standing there meeting the proprietor, this Canadian girl, plugging myself into the scene she commands.  I had a lot of questions.  I asked if I could do an interview.  It took a lot longer than I thought it might.  Kaile’s a fucking great sport, though, and I am glad I met her.  You’ll see.  I’ll introduce you.

this machine makes magic

you use it to conjure forth fantasy, duh

Young Kaile has been tugging the old typewriter ribbon-first from Toronto for two summers, assembling her pile of poems along the journey.  She had tried college.  Three times.  She moved to the US for a while, staying in a hostel a lot longer than most people would care to, meeting tourists and developing a taste for the stories that people share with each other when they’ve been flung together so.  She had seen a tramp earning whisky money one evening, heard him clack clack clacking, and said hm.  I didn’t bring it up at the moment, but most people just walk past that unaffected, and Kaile didn’t just get impressed by the sight, as I have.  Suddenly a new channel for expression had been illuminated.  The spirit inside her saw a way out! – she had to try it, writer’s block be damned.

Wait, this isn’t what she said.  I’m sexing this up slightly.  There was a different reason for doing it, I’ll check my notes.  Journalist.  Journalist.  Right: it wasn’t just writing, expression, creation and all that nonsense, rather she grabbed ahold of the Store concept as a way to channel Paul Newman.  I don’t know why I hadn’t asked her to explain that.  I was a bit high and it made more sense to me then.  Something about The Hustler getting paid.  Also she said she wanted to put one over on the ghost of Kerouac.  Right on, I might have even said.  All those Beats, their politics are no longer relevant and we’re still slaves, Malice in Blunderland, fuck ‘em all; no, I didn’t say that, but I nodded.  And it was a hippy at a writer’s festival what she saw, not a panhandling savant, like some Curtis Lowe character.  I have to apologise to you, reader, and promise to never again take these manipulative liberties.  But I’m almost certain that Kaile wouldn’t mind me mythologizing a bit, would you, young poet?

Anyway, so the first thing that came to mind to ask her about was the most inappropriate topic, her gender.  Is this perhaps dangerous for a young girl to do?  I mean, how reckless, how wilfully care free, footloose even for a thirty-year old guy like me to consider doing!  She seemed so totally at ease with the whole thing.  She’s got more guts than I do, I guess.  And shouldn’t this piece be about art, about some great experience I had with somebody living inspirationally (that’s Kaile), and not about the Health and Safety concerns of some sort of ageing post-feminist (that’d be me) with a dark view of human nature and a paternal instinct?  Yeah, she’s probably correct when she asks me to leave it.

Her story of the Store’s synthesis had an unexpected punchline.  Like any good project, Kaile said she initially talked about the concept a lot more than she took out the table and rug and typewriter, and the fisherman’s seat that makes the whole rig look frankly like some kind of crazy vehicle.  It seems like it was during this brainstorming that she began to think about what the upshots of the practice would be.  Wrangling with random elements in the writing process.  Developing an eye for people, and how to open them up, seeing firsthand if she’s speaking to the reader.  Perhaps.  I have to write that there – more of my perhaps journalism.  Journalist.  Journalism.  Maybe she’s just heaping up loads of little bits of what she had referred to as “something big” – ah, the Something Big.  The ineffable mother lode after which all of us writers lust.

But, you know, these little pieces don’t materialise from nowhere, she has to convert the foot traffic into customers.  So she’s got this pitch that’s pretty clean and poppy.  Every time I watched her pull a few handfuls of inspiration from the crowd, I had a chance to scribble into my notepad.  One by one, each person looked over.  Saw the Store.  One by one, they are suddenly drawn by the poet to her typewriter as if to a crystal ball.  Behold.  Clack clack clack.  And when the person finally has their half of the literature, they all hold it the exact same way, both hands holding the card, arms bent with the elbows against the torso, a look of wonder in their eyes and they always mouth along (but I coax them to read aloud).  And then, just as ably, Kaile moved them along, the tink tink into the hat.  A few swipes and a new card was ready with the carbon sheet that duped the stanzas of her ever-growing poem.

And what does it all mean for our poetess?  I guess we were sitting there, drinking tinned lager and chatting, and I forgot there was an interview to do, so I may have to piece this one together here.  For me it’s about telling a story of someone seeing something, trying it out, seeing that it works, how it works.  Something magical.  Ideas growing into real physical things.  For her it’s a kind of school where she goes in and learns every day, disciplined, fruitful.  She says if this were a baccalaureate program, she’d be about half-way through, maybe in an internship.  Although I prompted that metaphor, so it’s not really clear if that’s just me again.  She’ll be dropping in on Edinburgh while she’s here, to busk the Royal Mile.  Later, it’s a library job, maybe after dropping out of library school.

I guess the most enjoyable aspect of Kaile’s whole Store concept is that this poet-busker really has her shit together.  It’s such a wonderful contradiction.  She’s making her life up out of whole cloth, true.  Most street people are, some to the more extreme ends of schizophrenia.  But, purposive.  Collected.  Light-hearted.  Most people on the street aren’t any of these things.  And of course, she’s young, so it’s got to be a blast roaming strange lands with a rucksack full of poetry, a nice buzz and Knowing that nothing is any other way than what you say it is.  Once she puts down roots, aye, watch out for this one.

———–

Do I have a list of the authors, movements, styles and what-have-you about her favourite literature?  Did I care to read any of her work, so that I might pass judgment on it for you?  No.  I make no claims to being any kind of art snob.  If you’re interested in either of these topics:

You can find Kaile’s most recent poetry anthology through http://www.fedoraupsidedown.com/, and her Store has a web presence at http://thespontaneousprosestore.wordpress.com/ .

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