Remembering Sean Killian

I first met Sean in 1979 in Berkeley. He was intense. He had jet-black hair (no signature white ponytail yet), and he already walked like a New Yorker, fast and purposefully. He talked a blue streak. He was the most opinionated person I had ever met: Sean had strong feelings about art and music, and especially about poetry, which he studied assiduously (he was a student of Robert Duncan). If he got you on the phone—especially after midnight—he could go on for hours. He was a disciplined and prolific writer: stacks of poems (Sean composed on a typewriter for his entire life) lined the walls of his living room. He was a perfectionist who revised his work incessantly; he bound his poems in notebooks and reworked them for years. This is probably why he published little—one chapbook and several pieces here and there.

Michael Golston

NYC was Sean’s spiritual home. He was the best of companions—garrulous and articulate—and he loved live music: jazz and the Dead, Dylan and Bach. His CD collection and his library were always growing exponentially. Sean was famous for hosting after-reading gatherings and informal salons at his East village apartment, and he often hosted gatherings at his house in Catskill. He’d attend parties with a backpack holding two bottles of wine, and if the party merited it, he’d pull out the second bottle. He remained a 70s kind of dude with an @AOL address and a vintage blue and white Macintosh. Sean’s favorite poet was John Ashbery—a Hanuman Books edition of Ashbery poems graced his entry table, and he was a lifelong reader in philosophy and especially in Buddhism. He once sent a collection of poems to Jacques Derrida, who responded in an enthusiastic letter. He was a true connoisseur of the arts and life and a tried and true friend.

Brenda Coultas