high•ly tex•tured writ•er: A person whose work is to write books, poems, or stories and has curly or kinky hair.
Welcome Kyle Dargan to Librarian Dreams.
1. What is your signature hairstyle and how do you achieve it?
Well, and this relates to my writing a bit, I tend to only cut my hair when a close family member passes away. (It is a folk tradition.) So unless I am in the period of mourning, my hair is usually long—a bushy, curly afro. I used to push it back with a bandana or band, but now I am going to just let it go. I have a poem in the The Listening, “Old Ways,” about that process of shearing.
2. Which books could give insight on you as a person? Why?
All of them, but only for particular moments in time. I think that since I am trying to evolve as a person throughout life, I also evolve as an author. So the kid (literally kid—I was twenty-three) who wrote The Listening is quite different than the man who wrote Honest Engine. Same body and continuum, but much different perspectives.
It’s somewhat like Common’s albums. If you listen to his albums—from Can I Borrow a Dollar through Be—his evolution as a man is so clear, clearer than it is for a lot of emcees who rehash the same things ad nauseam. I hope my books can function that way.
3. Have libraries had any impact on your writing?
Certainly. First and foremost, my grandmother was a big reader and she modeled the reading and library life for me. So my basic belief in the importance of books and their place in our lives start with her and with libraries.
While I was studying at the University of Virginia, I spent a lot of time in Alderman, the school’s amazing library. I used to go into the library hide the books that meant a lot to me—Terrance Hayes’ Muscular Music, Thomas Sayers Ellis’ The Genuine Negro Hero, etc.—so that I could get them whenever I wanted them. People will tell you how rare it was to have a plethora of African-American poets available to you in the ‘60s and ‘70s. And even though I was in college thirty or more years after that, I think I entered the library with that “starving” mentality sometimes and hoarded books. I have tried to atone since.
4. What challenges did you face in putting Honest Engine together?
It is just hard to write a book that deals with so much loss and avoid having it sound morose. There is the feeling of death and then there is the reality of death. The feeling is awful, even crippling sometimes. The reality is that death is as “natural” as birth and maturation. It is part of the human cycle and one of the things that—as far as we know—marks us as different from other organisms, the fact that we are so aware of our looming end. The other reality is that we don’t know what is on the other side of death. So you deal with what you know and you accept and ponder, as honestly as possible, that which you know not. That describes the process for writing and arranging the poems in Honest Engine.