What does the American dream mean in 2019? In his epistle to America, writer and actor Keenan Flagg writes that “though your voice is rasped, and your eyes are heavy, I still love you.” We were intrigued by the way the narrator in this prose poem both loves and loathes this complicated country, indicating yet another take on “new terrains.” We’re looking forward to performing his piece, “Chimes,” this upcoming Sunday, February 24, at the San Jose Museum of Art.
Keenan is a local writer, actor, and activist who believes strongly in the power of words. “Chimes” among other new work attempts to use this power to highlight the disassociation some feel living in this current time of political gridlock and how that feeling can bleed into action.
What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?
When I think of words like migration and movement, I think first of the act of moving, of picking up and leaving, and what that means to a person. Second to that is the act of settling. You moved, you took a leap, you left your home, your comfort zone, etc. but now you have to carve out in unfamiliar terrain a new life for yourself, a new series of patterns. Migration isn’t just leaving for something new, it’s a hard restart and it takes a lot of courage and determination and faith.
Which writers or performers inspire you?
I’ve been reading Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. Recently, I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from sci-fi writers which is kind of odd for poetry, but the depth of language and shear imagination of concepts resonates with me.
Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.
Ohio, by Stephen Markley. Amazing piece of historical fiction that really peels back the layers of small-town middle America and examines, in probably a little too much detail, the collapse of the industrial middle class. Also, George Saunders beautiful work Lincoln in the Bardo, this novel is incredible, and everyone should read it. It’s an intense and intimate study of grief and love.
Want to learn more about Keenan? Join us at our New Terrains show on Feb 24. Click here to reserve your tickets, which include free admission to the San Jose Museum of Art! RSVP on Facebook for more details.