Brian Kiteley

Response & Bio

Question 9. Cultural critic Michael Benedikt suggests that "there is probably a shorter distance from the unconscious to the prose poem, than from the unconscious to most poems in verse." In what ways do you think this is true?

This is certainly true in my experience. I write what I call postcard stories, literally on the backs on the postal service's blank postcards. I assign myself a problem or a topic or a sentence or two from another writer. I let the story germinate in my mind for a few days or sometimes weeks. The process allows my unconscious to do a great deal of work. This is not what the Surrealists had in mind, but a new and different way of telling stories—something I'm always looking for—usually comes to me by this method. I also use the addressee of the postcard to create an intimate audience for the story, and I can see when the story is about to end—it has to end on a postcard. I revise these stories a great deal after they've been dropped in the mailbox, but the essence of this experience of restraint, prodding the unconscious, and addressing a story to an actual person remains in the final draft.


Brian Kiteley is the author of Still Life with Insects and I Know Many Songs, But I Cannot Sing. He has also recently finished two books, one of fiction exercises, Sleight of Hand; and a novel, The River Gods. He has received Guggenheim and Whiting fellowships. He teaches at the University of Denver.

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