THIS IS FIFTY-THREE is Kevin J. O’Conner’s seventh collection of poems—and his most ambitious to date. Not your typical poetry collection, THIS IS FIFTY-THREE is an exploration of living with uncertainty at a time when we’d expect most of life’s big questions to have been already answered.
It is also an exploration of form and craft.
"In my poems, I have continued to try out different forms and styles in order to stretch myself as a writer. As for the visuals, my previous books used images to mark the boundaries between sections; here, they are an integral part of the whole, whether complementing the text or providing a counterpoint—or stirring things up. The result, for better or worse, is an honest portrayal of me at age fifty-three."
—Kevin J. O'Conner, August 2016
THIS IS FIFTY-THREE is divided into sections, plus a prelude and postlude:
Poems written using established forms—in this case tritina, pantoum, terzanelle, viator, rhyming couplets, lune, landay, haiku, and rimas dissolutas.
Experimental poems, poems based on dreams, poems based on prompts, poems given unusual graphic or typographic treatment, and unusual or unexpected graphics.
Secrets (and Other Secrets)
Private moments, secrets, unspoken thoughts.
Small moments and fragility.
Kevin J. O’Conner (53) is not your typical poet. He has not won poetry awards or contests, earned an MFA, taught writing in colleges or workshops, attended writing retreats, studied under writers of reputation, or been published in an ever-growing list of journals. His early influences were not poets, but songwriters. He prefers the direct over the decorative, both in language and presentation. Kevin’s working method combines monthly writing challenges with writing every day (or as close to it as possible). Initial feedback comes from posting each day’s best (or least horrible) poem to his blog, and reading at open-mic events. This approach disqualifies the poems from being considered for publication in most journals, making self-publishing the order of the day. To date, Kevin has published seven collections of poetry (which he also designed); the latest is This Is Fifty-three, which is available as a full-color art edition with photos and graphics, and as a stripped-down edition containing just the poems. He has also published two volumes of ‘love notes’ to the days of the week, ‘Dear Monday…’ and ‘Dear Tuesday…’ When not writing poetry, Kevin can be found copy-editing documents from far-flung places, attending open-mics, designing books, taking photographs, and making large quantities of soup. He lives near Seattle with his two feline companions, Lucy and Trixie, who bear the names of 1950s sitcom characters only by coincidence.