Today I am interviewing kim d. hunter, author of the new short-story collection, The Official Report on Human Activity (Wayne State University Press, 2018). It’s his first work of fiction. hunter’s work prior to this was primarily poetry. He served as Poet-in-Residence in several Detroit public schools through the InsideOut Literary Arts Project. He co-directed the Woodward Line Poetry Series for 13 years. The series was awarded a Knight Arts Challenge Detroit in 2013.
His poems appear in “they say triangle – 6X6 #35” “Black Renaissance Noire” “What I Say, Innovative Poetry by Black Writers in America” “Rainbow Darkness,” “Abandon Automobile,” and elsewhere. He has published two collections of poetry: “borne on slow knives (Past Tents, 2001) and “edge of the time zone” (white print inc., 2009). He received a Kresge Literary Arts Fellowship in 2012 for an earlier version of his published fiction.
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DJ: Hi Kim! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Kim D. Hunter: My literary life began with and has been mostly focused on poetry, , Baraka (then LeRoi Jones), Plath, cummings, Brooks. Those writers were my adolescent world and I identified with being a poet most of my life. I did write one short story back in the late 80s that I’m revising to this day. That editing process along with the first line of the title story of the collection —“When Ipso gave birth to what most agreed was an elephant…,” which seemed to come from nowhere— is what I think led me to write and then submit the collection to the folks at Kresge Arts Foundation. I was fortunate enough to win a Kresge Literary Arts Fellowship in 2012. That award and the process of attaining it added a whole other facet to my writing. Much of my work, poetry and fiction is concerned with social justice. I grew up African American working class and have worked in media all my life. I began as a television camera operator and moved into media relations for nonprofits and now for social justice groups and causes.
DJ: What is The Official Report on Human Activity about?
Kim: My usual reply to this question is an old joke: it’s about 220 pages and, because it’s short, it will appeal to young men because it doesn’t take much of a commitment. But seriously, I deflect the question with jokes because the plots are nutty and, while humor is woven throughout, it belies much of the actual reading experience. But, to answer your question, the broad themes are how technology in general and media in particular affect us based on gender, race and class. The only realistic story of the four deals with mistaken perceptions of blackness and whiteness and how violence can flow from those mistakes. The three speculative stories feature animals acting strangely which adds to their speculative fiction aspect. All of the stories involve music, jazz and/or opera, and/or various kinds of blues. There’s always an author lurking somewhere in every story as well. I am concerned with the reader’s experience so I am concerned with reflecting on the creative process which adds a postmodern feel to the stories. Continue reading