The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Picture of Kevin McIlvoy

Kevin McIlvoy

Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference, 2018

Kevin McIlvoy, retired New Mexico State University Regents Professor, has published six books, most recently 57 Octaves Below Middle C (Four Way Books, 2017) and The Complete History of New Mexico and Other Stories (Graywolf Press, 2008). His novel, At the Gate of All Wonder (Tupelo Press) will be published in September 2018. He teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Warren Wilson College. He has served on the boards of the Council for Literary Magazines and Small Presses and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.


Selected Media

"Kevin McIlvoy, 57 Octaves Below Middle C." Four Way Books Publicity (Mar 9, 2017). Book Trailer.

"Sometimes the man spits before he grips. Sometimes bat and man have a little chat, in choking up a bit to get the sense of the meat saying, Where I want it now mister. Straight shot. He knows it never hurts to practice swing, to pound the plate, to chomp from the chin, from the gut, from the hip, to imagine the crack sound. To knock the thing against his thighs. Rapid against his lifted cleats. Hold it up as if to switch on the ballfield lights with it."

"Basho, poet, diarist, recluse, sells lawn mower--used but like new." Kevin McIlvoy, Freight Stories 7.

"I had phoned, not sure I needed another lawnmower, but you never do know, and I lived alone, and living alone like that, I thought lawnmowers were unchanging truths. Like other men I was drawn to them, seriously drawn, so I had them. Where a car might be parked, or chairs and tables and children’s outgrown shoes and clothes stored, I had them everywhere, seriously, everywhere.

He answered the phone, 'Basho!'"

"Two Short Stories." Kevin McIlvoy, Four Way Review (2013).

"The Luthier’s mother’s mouth’s openness, her hands’ finger’s tremblings, her red hair’s fires’ warnings. It’s what you saw if you were making your last visit to her ever. You were the Luthier’s mother’s Possession when you walked into her son’s guitars’ home, in which son and mother also lived together in one room.

Inside their home’s heart’s sounds: the tub’s faucet’s dripping’s splashings and the refrigerator’s coils’ hymning humming and the clock’s hands’ frettings and the floorboards’ one warped floorboard’s creaking. It felt like everything you heard was also hearing everything else, that nothing resting there fully rested."

"The Complete History of New Mexico by Kevin McIvoy." Phyllis Fong, The Believer (Feb 2005).

"'A man who fell in love with the same woman seven times, who loved him less each time he fell, sent seven other falling, failing men The Letter. And in only seven years… she wrote to him to say that someday she would write to him again.' Seven years is a long time, if you are not that man. 'Are you him?' The Complete History of New Mexico opens with this come-on, a powers-of-seven call to arms: McIlvoy posits a universe of “believers, brothers and lovers,” and writes it into being.

The title novella collects, in three parts, the grade school papers of Charlemagne “Chum” J. Belter. Written in fifth grade, fifth-grade summer school (for failed English), and sixth grade—a short time only if you are not that boy—the papers tell an alternative New Mexico history, intercut with a personal history of the death of Chum’s best friend, Daniel, and the disappearance of Daniel’s sister afterward."


"A Conversation with Kevin McIlvoy." Mary Akers, r.kv.r.y quarterly.

"Sadly, in the U.S. we have so many writers with amazing book manuscripts in hand who cannot find publishers only because their books offer fullness instead of completeness: a story with centrifugal force that resists finding a center; a story that is marvelous in its disproportionality; a story that gives irony its due without giving it primacy; a story that allows dynamic balance (unstable terms of engagement) to override balance; a story in which the transformative (sensation-generating, playful, pleasure-making) language is allowed, at certain moments, to overwhelm the transactive (meaning-making, plot-preserving) language."