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Mad for Meat
September 2011


Bend to it

Kevin Simmonds

ISBN: 978-1-908836-79-3

Page Count: 84

Publication Date: Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cover Artwork: Nori Hara (artwork & design) - www.norihara.com

Click to play audio "no need for salvation" from Bend to it by Kevin S... play
Click to play audio "Soon I will be done" from 'Bend to it' by Kevin S... play
Click to play audio "two kōan in San Francisco" from "Bend to it"... play

About this Book

Praise for Kevin Simmonds and Mad for Meat

“Here is an artist and activist for our generation, weaned on the academia that today’s waning poetry audiences demand, but grounded in the Stonewall generation’s ethos of political and sexual liberation.
In this way, Simmonds is more like James Broughton, Essex Hemphill, and the lesser-known Richard Ronan than any poet who’s emerged in the last twenty years.” 
— Lambda Literary

“This collection is not kind or nice, but the brutality of his honesty, the blunt force of his handling of subject matter, and most importantly, his emotional transparency, make this strong collection incredibly effective and worth reading and rereading.”
— The Rumpus

"Kevin Simmonds’ poems are full of precise, vivid details and haunting images,
like this description of the parish priest: ‘I remember the tie-dye chasuble /
of your last Easter / its burnt orange & brown silk / flooding the aisle as you stepped / from the altar to tell us the marvel / of resurrection & life of the world
to come.’ Or this description of buying a sweet ice dessert as a child: ‘Miss Pearl would open the door halfway / so I could tell her which flavor / & her smoke- cured contralto would sing / Hold on, baby ... my quarter passed into her thick-lined hands / long nails jaundiced by smokes.’ Simmonds is an accomplished musician, so it’s no wonder these poems sing ... [and] are brave, rich, disturbing, tender and a tribute to the human spirit.” — Ellen Bass
“Piercing the veil of a culture of silence, Kevin Simmonds brilliantly fuses quiet meditative traditions with a courageous impulse to dare beyond the boundaries of convention, to combine the bel canto of Italian art songs with the dynamic energy of James Brown; the tranquility of the zen masters with the fire and heat of the enraptured body. This is divine poetry — holy in the body, holy in the mind and holy in its heart.” — D. A. Powell
“At once personal and public, grounded and spiritual, all the poems in this collection are questions with no easy answers...In the opening poem, Simmonds tells us, ‘we began as trees / no wonder we ache / for wine-filled branches’ and by the end of the book, my branches were heavy with treasure — lines I don’t want to let go of like ‘even the soft ambulance / of a man’s body’ from one of several poems about his father or ‘I’m a blue silence / a closed mouth’ from Traded Moons,
a sequence on sex trafficking.” 
— Seni Seneviratne


Author Biography

KEVIN SIMMONDS is a writer and musician originally from New orleans. His books include Mad for Meat (Salmon Poetry) and the edited works Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality (Sibling Rivalry Press) and Ota Benga Under my Mother’s Roof (University of South Carolina). He has composed numerous musical works for voice and chamber ensemble, as well as for stage productions such as Emmett Till, a river and the Emmy Award-winning documentary HOPE: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica. A recipient of fellowships and commissions from Cave Canem, Creative Work Fund, Fulbright, the Pulitzer Center, San Francisco Arts Commission and the Edward Stanley Award from Prairie Schooner, he divides his time between Japan and San Francisco.


Sample Poems

no need for salvation

we began as trees
  no wonder we ache
  for wine-filled branches
  forgiven nothing
  no lips for why



two kōan in San Francisco


Yoda was right:
Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.

lift the animal
of your body

gods will convalesce
in the razoring waters

brandish your wrists
accept it



just off the fifth street exit there’s a man welcoming me back from the east bay he grazes on kindness so daily he nearly starves many like him scattered in this city with their hands bandaged with cups despite my unruptured silence what’s more human than fear look at how human we are



Soon I will be done
Negro spiritual

I go down where it’s still sung
by the mother of the block
lifting her tremulous contralto
from the screened porch that leans
such that the latch won’t lock

I’ve grown mean without its milk
that saved masters from their slaves
salve rubbed into the pink tears
where rot should’ve set in
the revolt

Ask some black kid if they know it 
& they might say the title
rings a bell but that doesn’t matter
it runs mad in the ruby fractals
of their capillaries & in their spit

Never mind the tempo, child
the stride began with Soon
from your upbeat
of breath & the ancestors
already galloping

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