The Poetry Project


I Killed, I Died: Banter, Self-Destruction, and the Poetry Reading with Douglas Kearney

While reading from early drafts of Patter, a collection about miscarriage, infertility, and making a Black family in the U.S., Douglas Kearney’s relationship to audiences at poetry gigs changed. Informed by stand-up, improvisational music, and artists from Nina Simone to the Black Took Collective, Kearney began engaging the time between poems—the banter—to activate the imaginative space of association, mess, and discomfort he pursues in his written work: live. This lecture will get into the tension between pain and its performance, comedians’ ideas of “killing” and “dying,” along with tips on how to sprint into a stone wall without getting hurt much.

We encourage enthusiastic readers and listeners to engage more deeply with Douglas Kearney's work by purchasing his books. His latest collection of poems, Sho, is available for purchase through the publisher, Wave Books.

Please note you must be logged in to your Eventbrite account to access the event's zoom link. We will begin letting people into the reading from Eventbrite a few minutes before the start of the event. Please also note that if you are not logged into Eventbrite, you will receive a notification reading "You don't have access to this event" when you click on the event link. This is an automatically generated notification indicating that you need to login, using the email address with which you registered for the event. You can do so using the button located directly below the notification. If you have any questions, have trouble accessing your Eventbrite account, or have trouble accessing Zoom after the event's listed start time, please contact Poetry Project staff directly at

The Poetry Project is committed to making our event programming inclusive and accessible for individuals with different experiences, and are continuously working to improve and expand upon accessibility measures. Our online broadcasts feature live transcription and are presented on broadcasts compatible with most screen readers. Additionally, this event will feature live ASL interpretation from Billy A. Sanders. If you have a question about either of these resources, or an accessibility measure we haven't described, please contact us at