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The start of a brilliant career

Kyle Dacuyan read at the Zinc Bar as part of the long-running Segue series. Was it the most stunning reading I've been to in 20 years? 30? 40? Yes, quite likely. If there's any justice in the world, in 10 years, 10 thousand people will claim to have been there.

I only met Kyle last summer, when he was hired as the director of the Poetry Project. From the start I found him impressive, particularly for his listening ability. Not many people can (or are willing to) listen closely without inserting themselves.

That quality drives his work. What he read was based on his previous job with PEN, traveling around the country, where he spent days in groups discussing freedom of the press & nights at gay bars. He managed to illuminate those dual activities thoughtfully. I think a lot of younger people & poets are very much ego &/or hectoring ("you messed up, old folks, & here's how! Fix it now!"). Kyle can see the failures but he has a tougher & more noble plan: to show your errors without making you defensive. Outward-facing with a sure core, alive to dilemmas & contradictions.

One anecdote had him going to the Philippines as a teen, where a cousin asked what he wanted to be. An archaeologist, Kyle said, what about you? A receptionist in a hotel in America. And he went on to riff on expectations and privilege but not in a pat way. He made us want to hear his point of view because he was figuring it out not fitting the evidence into a grid.

Also, his reading style managed to be simultaneously dramatic & low-key. That alone is genius!
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