An Interview with Kevin McIlvoy

MFA program faculty member Kevin “Mc” McIlvoy was recently interviewed at The Collagist:

For almost thirty years I’ve found myself writing a story and, later, its non-identical twin. Even after recognizing this pattern in my writing habits, I have not consciously set out to find that second story, though I have placed myself in readiness for it.  I am a sing-thinker mostly – and sometimes a think-singer.  I go where sound leads me: where it spills and where it pours. After I have written a story, I will sometimes hear the sonic aspect of it as “pouring” or “spilling.” I have a great love of Delta blues music; when I hear Blind Willie Johnson, for instance, I feel I am hearing song through which gospel music pours and the blues-cry spills; when I hear Charley Patton, I feel his pouring is the arriving train-sound and his spilling is the departing train-sound.

I hope it’s not too presumptuous of me to bring them up – I’m only saying that I try my best to learn from singer-storytellers.  After I wrote “When will we speak of Jesus,” which in its very title sounds to me like the narrator might be singing a form of gospel song, I could hear that at the next moment in his life this narrator might be singing as if he was a force of nature (as in kudzu, and as in a kind of horizon-to-horizon cloud-tide called “altocumulus undulatus asperatus”)...[Keep Reading]…

Mc is the author of The Complete History of New Mexico: Stories (2004, Graywolf Press).

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