Written by Great Books on Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Name: Kaitlyn Burd, but you can call me K.Burd
Current life status: I graduated from Kenyon College in May. Now I live in Louisville with my friends Krista and John, a dog named Artemis, and a three-legged cat named Ric Flair. We don’t have internet at our house, but we do have a theremin.
Current project: At the moment, I am drinking a large cup of coffee. This might seem like a quotidian detail, but it can be read into — as can the magazine I work for, Paper Darts! We just relaunched our website; so I’ve been busy reading submissions and writing for the PD blog. I also tutor high school students. This is very engaging, but don’t be jealous! It could never fill the space that Great Books leaves in my heart at the end of every summer.
Relationship to Great Books: Bride married to amazement (and veteran Program Assistant at Amherst).
Nerdy fun fact: I once was a historical reenactment actor for the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville. This was unintentional. I had volunteered to work the Festival, thinking that I would be asked to hand out fliers or to tell people not to touch the sheep on the property of the house where the event was held. Only when I showed up at the Festival was I instructed to go up to the attic of the house — stocked with period clothing — to find a dress that would fit me. All of this was made better by the fact that I had cajoled my friend Haley into volunteering at the festival with me. After we spent the adequate amount of time trying on men’s riding breeches and top hats, we donned our calico dresses a spent the day circulating among Festival guests. I was completely out of my element. Most of the people attending the festival had made their own costumes months in advance — and they looked good — and never broke from their British accents. But it was still ridiculously fun, and Haley and I learned that late-18th century dresses are pretty comfortable — so long as you leave the corsets behind!
Nerdiest attribute: I love being read to and reading aloud to more than I love most things. I would rather have a friend read me a story than watch a movie with that friend.
Favorite book: The impossible question! The English Patient, In the Skin of a Lion, and Secular Love by Michael Ondaatje are the books that I’m most intimately in love with because I’ve spent so much time writing about them, but Middlemarch, Ulysses, and The Autobiography of Red also must be mentioned as books that have changed my life and transformed my idea of what a story could be. Also, if we are going to talk about writing that broadened the horizon of my expectations, The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism deserves a shout-out.
Currently reading: I’ve become a very promiscuous reader, but I’m mainly keeping fidelity with White Teeth by Zadie Smith and a collection of poems called Hymn for the Black Terrific by Kiki Petrosino these days. Lead PA Piers and I also recently embarked upon reading a canto a day from Dante’s Divine Comedy, which has been a revelation, although I’m a few cantos behind this week (don’t tell Piers).
Favorite word: Zugunruh. It refers to the restlessness birds feel before their migratory season, so, yes, I’m troping myself with that answer. I also love “candid” and “imbue” and “mischief.” My least favorite words are the wrong ones.
Which author would you want to write your story?: Isabel Allende because I want magic with my realism.
Paperback or hardcover?: In theory, my relationship to literature is like that line from the Neruda poem: “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.” Only, from the state of my books that usually ends up looking more like scribbled upon pages, water-damaged covers, and split spines. Paperback books make this treatment seem like less of a violence, so they have to be my preferred type of text.
What’s the best point of view for narration?: I think there is something really fertile in shifting narrative. When an author can successfully allow for ambiguity in perspective without derailing narrative, I find something luscious in that. Ulysses is the example that comes to mind immediately, but Woolf and Faulkner also do a beautiful job of allowing POVs to come together like tectonic plates that make the whole earth shake. If I had to choose one tense that really moves me regardless of the perspective, though, it would have to be future progressive. I’ll always be a sucker for a prophecy.