Poetry News

Yes. I fainted at a party recently: The Work of Kristen Kosmas at BODY Literature

By Harriet Staff


Poets who are interested in experimental performance writing and the contemporary theater scene would do well to check out this series of work and conversation with Kristen Kosmas--you might have heard of her play, Hello Failure, published as part of Ugly Duckling Presse's Emergency Playscripts series in 2009. Or her recent work, There There, which went up last year at the Chocolate Factory in New York and featured a translation from Russian done by Matvei Yankelevich. BODY Literature has just put up part 4 of their series with Kosmas (going up weekly, next week's fifth will be the final part). Here's an excerpt of "A CERTAIN QUANTITY OF ACCURATE DESCRIPTIONS: plays for the mental theater"--we're so lucky to see this in print! Also, check out her interview with the equally astonishing playwright Sibyl Kempson.


As far as I know
there is a long table made of wood.
At one end, a man with a giant head, bald,
is looking this way and that.
(He is maybe a little paranoid.)
He is eating an endless
chicken thigh with the skin still on it.
He chews and talks.
He talks but he doesn’t say any thing.
He chews and murmurs.
He is thinking about his money.

He tosses the chicken thigh bone over to the right.
It lands with a dull thud on the stage floor.
He gestures his hands around wildly in the air at about shoulder level.
His face is all—
Maybe he is praying for God to protect his money
while he finishes chewing his over-large mouthful of chicken.

He takes another thigh from the silver platter.

Someone’s hands are upstage left, framed very small in a little window. (Maybe part of a torso also shows, but mostly it is the hands.) The hands are wringing a white handkerchief around and around. The handkerchief is scented lavender. The lavender smell and the chicken smell mix to make a nausea. The person whose hands these are is whispering. She is whispering to herself in quick syllables. What is she saying? I don’t know. I can’t hear her. She is in some sort of conflict. She is having a moral dilemma. She has red hair.

All of the electricity in the city goes out at this point and there is a kind of mild panic. It is possible that in some people the mild panic grows ever greater. It is a feeling of the walls being pressed in upon, some cosmic pressure asserting itself on the space from the outside.

Yes. I fainted at a party recently.

Originally Published: August 23rd, 2013