Published on May 13th, 2015 | by Katy Evans1
The marvelous makings of poet Troy Kehm-Goins
Perhaps, as a local who has explored our maturing Tacoma/South Sound blogosphere, you have run across the delightful blog, Troy’s Work Table. Troy Kehm-Goins, a local writer and proud Puyallup resident, has been sharing his passion for art, books, and beer since 2006. Recently, he bravely entered the world of small press, independent publishing with Troy’s Work Table Publishing.
As he explains on his site, in 2008, Troy and a group of Northwest writers formed Les Sardines, a writers collective that semi-regularly produces themed literary zines featuring all kinds of original, short form writing.
Les Sardines and now Troy’s own self-publishing represent his lifelong love of books and the irl community that surrounds them. As Troy says,
“I love the smell of books. I love the feel of books. I love the weight of a book in my hand. I like the tension that sometimes comes from not knowing what lurks on the next page. Zines and chapbooks are just smaller versions of the same.
“I worked as a bookseller in a couple of bookstores for sixteen years.Today, even though I no longer work in a bookstore, I still want to get books into the hands of others and I want to encourage others to read. I read to kids in classrooms. I support my local libraries. I support local bookstores, my favorites being The Nearsighted Narwhal, King’s Books, and Tacoma Book Center. I attend poetry readings and book events.”
For nearly ten years, Troy has been committed to writing, the culture of books, supporting local writers, and sharing his own poetry. “I have always enjoyed poetry,” Troy said. “In high school, I had a couple of teachers who made poetry sing for me. They made the words come alive for me in ways that I had not imagined on my own.”
And Troy is a really good poet. Keep reading, you’ll see.
It usually takes me a bit of time to get into the rhythm of reading poetry (my initial response is to be lazy and just, uh, not read it), because it’s difficult.
Often poetry purposely evades the reader, exploring abstraction, examining the more unknowable aspects of our creativity. Poetry is more structural, metaphysical, philosophical; less narrative or explanatory.
Which brings me back to Troy Kehm-Goins. Troy is a fascinating kind of completist; he is fastidious but not averse to displaying his process (like many good bloggers), and it’s not just with poetry. Troy conveys the same unflustered examination of his own creative development with visual art and with his appreciation of craft brewing (Troy is a devoted Frost Park chalk artist and beer aficionado).
It is a true joy to explore his blog because Troy is authentically curious and process-driven – just what you want to see a maturing artist and writer offer his readers. Here, enjoy these two examples:
The prophet casts her mantle from her hand
to drape the shoulders of her successor—
in flexible skin that shifts and covers well.
one arm to carry a staff of sorrow
two arms to twine in earnest prayer
three arms to lift toward the singing stars
four arms to reach the quoins of terra
five arms to grasp the shells of mussels
six arms to grab at God and wrestle
seven arms to stir the briny seas
eight arms to trail when time to flee
Now wanders alone this watery land—
abyssal desert scant of bidden succor—
a silent messenger wrapped in her own pall.
Follow the moon. Follow the tides. But only half the time. Every other full moon. Sometimes a half moon here or there. But never every cycle of the moon. Usually eight weeks. Sometimes six weeks.
Bark at the moon. Bay at the night sky. Vomit because it takes so much energy. So much time. I really just want to take a nap.
Don’t rely on transformation. It’s usually never full. More likely its half. Or worse. A hairy patch on one’s back. Knuckles and earlobes that will need to be shaved later. Long unkempt nails that will need to be trimmed. A tooth or two protruding more than it should.
It really is rather pathetic. They call me the half-werewolf. But it’s more like the half-assed werewolf. I can’t even bother to burst through my clothing. I don’t wake up naked. I wake up fully clothed. Yeah, maybe there’s a button or two missing from my shirt. Or a zipper has skipped its teeth.
But otherwise, I’m warm and curled up in a fetal ball. In the bright night light of Luna herself. Clutching at my knees. Sucking my thumb. Dreaming of a mostly rare steak.
Troy shares equally deep fascinations with the divine, the supernatural, and with the workings of the everyday; meticulously grappling with the mysteries and magic of the ways of animals, gods, plants, friends, food, history, and heroes.
All four of Troy’s poetry chapbooks (My Two Melvilles, Let There Be, All the Heroes Are Dead and Buried, and Black Psalms) are available at The Nearsighted Narwhal.
I’m sure by now, you just can’t wait to meet Troy, right? Well, this Friday you can.
Troy’s Work Table Publishing and Hagengard Studio are hosting a reading together at The Nearsighted Narwhal this Friday. Living Waters: A Reading will feature David Mecklenburg reading selections from his recent “fabulist memoir” novel The Nightingale’s Stone and Troy Kehm-Goins reading poems from his most recent poetry chapbook Black Psalms.
Of his co-reader at the event, Troy says “David Mecklenburg’s output in novels, essays, and verse pushes me to put some extra polish upon my own poems. Over the past few years of getting to work alongside Dave, both as fellow members of Les Sardines, and now as owner-publishers of our own small presses, I’ve learned a lot from him.”
Words in real life
The reading begins at 7 pm but be sure to come early to browse through Nearsighted Narwhal’s excellent selection of handmade and small press zines, fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Copies of Black Psalms and The Nightingale’s Stone will be available along with other offerings from the presses.
I asked Troy to tell me why we should all appreciate Nearsighted Narwhal and he was happy to oblige:
“I love The Nearsighted Narwhal. Ossain and Christina have provided a place in Tacoma and the Puget Sound region for people to be exposed to alternative and independent literature, music, art, comics, zines, and gifts that would otherwise not necessarily be easy to find or accessible. In addition to allowing local writers, musicians, and artists a place to sell their work and wares, The Nearsighted Narwhal has been a great supporter of the community of Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue District, as well as Tacoma at large. They continue to offer various events, readings, concerts, and workshops—each highlighting what a vibrant arts community exists in Tacoma and Pierce County.”
So, as the invitation suggests,“come explore shadow wells and the wine-dark sea in poetry and prose.” with Troy Kehm-Goins and David Mecklenburg.
Friday May 15, 2015, 7 pm
The Nearsighted Narwhal, 2610B 6th Ave, Tacoma WA 98406