Black Voices: Kaie Kellough

February 9, 2017

As his novel Accordéon (ARP Books) deals with a group of disaffected Quebecers in the wake of a monopolistic Ministry of Culture, so too does Kaie Kellough identify with "characters written into the margins, characters whose voices are suppressed, characters who are stereotyped and otherwise minimized." He answers our Black History Month authors' questionnaire, below.

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This Black History Month, we're interviewing writers of colour every Thursday, here on the All Lit Up blog.


ALU: Who’s a writer of colour you always recommend?

KK: Two poets: Kamau Brathwaite and Harryette Mullen.


ALU: Who are your favourite fictional characters?

KK: Minor characters, characters written into the margins, characters whose voices are suppressed, characters who are stereotyped and otherwise minimized.

The mysterious Senegalese double-agent Hamidou Diop is a favourite. He appears in a Québécois novel from 1967, Prochain Épisode. His sole appearance is made in fewer than 100 words.


ALU: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

KK: Please consult the options below. Check all that apply:

A - Touring the world in a reggae band

B - Making documentary films

C - Living a quiet suburban life as an accountant with a large family

D - Living communally as a member of a repatriate-to-Africa, cosmic consciousness organization

E - Owning an independent music store in Brooklyn

F - Hustling stories as a freelance journalist

G - Enjoying an alternate career as a chef in fine cuisine

H - Researching exotic medicinal plants as a South American botanist

I - Teaching poetry on an idyllic tropical campus in Asia

J - All of the above

K - None of the above



ALU: What advice would you give to writers?

KK: No advice, but an observation: It’s taken me 20 years to begin accepting the idea that writing happens slowly.


ALU: What was your most rewarding moment as a writer?

KK: Quitting smoking. Still Life of Writer with Cigarette is too haunting, too tragic, too nostalgic an image.



Kaie's workspace. Photo w/ assistance from Melissa Anne Cobbler.


ALU: If you get writer's block, what do you do to overcome it?

KK: I play with electricity.

I make sound using a modular synthesizer, which is an electronic instrument that applies voltage to producing and shaping sound. Lately my creative mind has become wired into that instrument.


ALU: What was the last movie you saw?

KK: I can’t remember the title, but a vulgar B-movie in which an evil orange wizard raises an army called “the deplorables” from purgatory, and they take over America.


ALU: What are three things you can’t live without?

KK: Purpose, love, language.


ALU: You wake up tomorrow with a special power. What is it?

KK: The ability to toggle in and out of existence, to stop existing when it suits me, and to return to existence when the desire reawakens. 

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Kaie Kellough lives in exile in Montréal. His intractable bohemianism and genetic solidarity with black, brown, and queer people led to his flight from western Canada in 1998. He hopes to one day free himself from the need to work, so as to divide his time between Montréal and Guyana. He would like to spend half the year researching his Guyanese ancestors, who hailed from Africa, China, and Portugal, while programming his synthesizer to produce the sound of an electronic rainforest. The other six months would be spent on tour and in Montréal, slowly placing one word in front of the other, assembling narrative, taking breaks to bicycle the narrow potholed streets and to sip espresso in Little Italy.

Kaie is the author of  Accordéon and Maple Leaf Rag, among other books.

Author photo by Pablo Riquelme.

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Thanks so much to Kaie for answering our questionnaire, and to ARP Books for making the connection. Stay tuned next Thursday for more Black Voices.


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