Kaie Kellough is hot stuff these days. Poetry, performance, fiction. He’s nailing it all. But like most Black people, he’s struggled to get here. The Quill interviews him about award culture, performance vs. page, and his next steps to see more people like himself reach the top.
Kellough admits he’s had to come to terms with the fact that as a writer of colour it’s not always easy to get published. Although the Canadian publishing landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years, he found it difficult to have his work taken seriously. Kellough gravitated toward the oral tradition, where he found support among Black writers and artists.
“I felt literary circles to be really difficult,” he says. “So many more opportunities were coming to me from the world of performance: opportunities to collaborate, to record, to travel. Print seemed to have dried up, and publishing always involved knocking on someone else’s door and waiting on their decision, always wondering whether I met someone else’s standard. In many cases that standard was limited and might not even value what I was attempting. It felt disempowering.”