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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Poet’s True Voice

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Ed Makowski is a 29-year-old Milwaukee poet with a true voice. Under the pen name Eddie Kilowatt, which he no longer uses because “[He] almost had to develop multiple personalities,” he has published two collections: Manifest Density (2006) and Carrying a Knife into the Gunfight (2007). His often-humorous observations and reflections are rendered in a warmly engaging style. He’s a bartender who rides motorcycles and raises a two-year-old son. He recently performed in the former Pabst Brewery for the Parachute Project, which seeks to call attention to vacant or underused Milwaukee architecture. His books are available at Woodland Pattern and Rushmore Records, and his blog is called “Ed Makowski’s Kitchen Table.”

Do you enjoy performing?

I like unconventional performances in unique places.I’d rather perform for people who don’t know they like poems. I wouldn’t call myself a slam poet. I focus on the writing, not the dramatic performance. I’m a conduit for the work, not the star of it.

How did you start writing?

I was about 20.It was a mental health thing.If I wrote the words in my head, the words left and I didn’t have to deal with them anymore.Otherwise, you wind up drunk at four in the morning with five poems layering on top of one another in your head, like you’re in the middle of a moving carousel wondering which direction to get off, with people, horses and wild animals everywhere.Writing is something that has to be done.I don’t know why I’m the one that has to be doing it. I never went to school for it. There are people more deserving, more educated. Today, if someone says something or tells me a story and it has an impact, it’s very natural for me, in the midst of the conversation, to excuse myself, go to another table and write it down.

Do you think you’re nuts?

Sure!There’s a word in French cooking, confit, meaning it cooks with itself.Everything should be with itself.Everyone should fit themselves.

What are you working on?

I have an interest in making things more visual.I’ve been going to the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers and making prints. It’s a better way to present my short poems (e.g., “Rome wasn’t burned in a day.”) Like a lot of people now, I want to make things with my hands, not just type at a computer.It’s there, it’s done, I made it!I think you’ll start seeing oddball cottage industries of people making things by hand, patronized by people who appreciate that.We’ll make less money, but we’ll be our own bosses, and hopefully I’ll fit into that.