Notes from a Backwards Chair: The Life Lessons We Learned and How We Got Real

The following is the text of a lecture I gave on May 13th at North Central College’s Sigma Tau Delta (English Honor Society) induction ceremony.

Thank you for inviting me to speak this afternoon. I hope you don’t regret asking me. I’ve never spoken at an occult ceremony, so this is very special for me.

As many of you know, I’m leaving North Central College and it’s a real honor to be able to speak with you on this day of excellence—I say that sincerely, even though there’s a lot of sarcasm to wade through in the talk I’m about to give. There’s some sincerity here, too. I thank you, my audience, for listening to me. I appreciate and value every minute of my time at North Central, so I thank you for giving me this opportunity.

When I talk to former students after they’ve graduated and moved on with their lives, the first thing they usually tell me is how much, even though they didn’t know it then, they’ve come to value the times in the classroom where we gathered in a circle, flipped our chairs around, and got real. I call these sessions ‘rap sessions’ and during these rap sessions, we put our books away and take a good, hard look at ourselves. All of my current students know what I’m talking about.

“Hey teach,” they tell me, “I didn’t believe you at the time about the life lessons we would learn, but now that I’m living my life, I think about the impact you and your wisdom have on me every day. I hear your voice everywhere. Like you’re following me.” I’m usually not following my former students, but it’s at those moments when I know I’ve done my job.
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Posted in Bric-a-brac on May 21st, 2014

The Floating McDonald’s

My essay, “The Floating McDonald’s” can be read here.

Posted in News on March 17th, 2014

The Exiles

My novella, The Exiles, is now available via Small Press Distribution!

Posted in The Exiles on February 26th, 2014

The Silent Numbers

“The Silent Numbers” combines audio collage with original text and text appropriated from an e-mail group devoted to recording and transcribing numbers stations. Numbers stations are shortwave radio broadcasts of human and machine-read numbers and letters probably used in espionage to communicate with field agents.

Best viewed using the Chrome browser. The audio for The Silent Numbers was built with GarageBand using audio recordings of numbers stations. The visual portion of the text was built using PHP, Javascript, HTML, and CSS.

View and listen here.

Posted in Projects on February 22nd, 2014

Digital_humanities

Digital_humanities, by Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner, and Jeffrey Schnapp is available as a free download from MIT Press.

Posted in Reading on December 13th, 2013

A New Review of The Exiles

“Attempting to describe the muffled terror of Matthew Kirkpatrick’s The Exiles is like trying to recount a nightmare with a sleeping tongue and hoarse voice. Reality becomes curated by the memories of the chapbook’s characters, prompting readers to experience the dissociation of their own loosely bound realities.” – Leigh Jajuga at Ampersand Review

Posted in The Exiles on December 12th, 2013

Processing Screen Shot

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 7.33.57 PM

Posted in Bric-a-brac on December 12th, 2013

More Processing

Two new Processing experiments using a concordance generated from my novel-in-progress. Here and here.

Posted in Bric-a-brac on December 11th, 2013

Processing

Check out this simple program I built to learn the Processing language. The program randomly displays words from a concordance of my novel-in-progress.

Posted in Bric-a-brac on December 5th, 2013

Recent Praise for The Exiles and Light without Heat

For The Exiles:

“…Kirkpatrick does not expect the myths to carry the weight of the book, and each of the characters in this slim volume have depths beneath their surface, human behaviors and humor. They bend and distort their stories, slipping the noose of their expected endings. Each section is a different story, and a different point of view: the boy hero, the princess in the tower, the sister in the woods. Depending on the perspective, even the worst tragedy and horror can be relegated to a subplot, even to invisibility. Kirkpatrick puts pressure on the stories we think we know, troubling them, leaving behind only the uncanny sense that no one is who they say they are.” Lauren Perez in The Collagist

“Read it. I promise, you will be unsettled and moved to piece the oddities and mysteries together. You will be haunted. And you may be uneasily appeased.” Tina Cabrera at HTMLGiant

For Light without Heat

“Kirkpatrick has a profound way of exploring real world circumstances and locating them, through his writing, in the atmosphere above where our dreams are and in the minerals below that house our nightmares; emptied towns, the horror of lost children, the fear of leaving a company or position or recognizing the false belief in that job or company– all of these spheres that we exist in everyday, Kirkpatrick handles with empathy, whimsy, charm, sorrow, and anxiety. While these stories vary stylistically, they consistently hone in on a certain mundanity found just outside the frenetic fringes of the country’s metropolises; instead of playing into it, he plays with it.”  William Lazarus Wacker in Drunken Boat

“Reading Matthew Kirkpatrick’s Light Without Heat is like getting sucked into a phonographic mishmash of scrambled linearity, a sometimes dizzy place where the reliability of science and the unreasonable nostalgia provoked by photographs and memories collide. His narrative structures lean toward the unfamiliar, though not so far as to take us into chaos. Rather, the stories in this debut collection mirror the search for selfhood and stability of the Big Bang: Where are my rivers? Where are my mountains, my oceans? Where are the people to bear witness to my pain?” John Oliver Hodges in American Book Review

Posted in Light without Heat, News, The Exiles on June 15th, 2013

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