Kevin Sampsell

He's from around here, and he didn't get along with his dad. In other words, he's a lot like you.

Best known for: Kevin Sampsell is something of a small-press icon. He’s also the publisher of Portland’s Future Tense Books. In 2008, he put together Creamy Bullets, a tasty collection of bizarrely erotic, yet soberly minimalist fiction stories. In his latest book, A Common Pornography, Sampsell harnesses that same, unabashed frankness, spreading the wings of candor in a free-ball crossover from fiction to memoir.

Opening lines: “In August 2008, I had a panic attack that forced me out of my home naked.”

Biographical fact: A native of Kennewick, Sampsell regarded the Tri Cities as an ideal place to grow up. That was before he had seen anyplace else.

Odd fact: Sampsell didn’t read heavily until he was 23, and the main reason was because an ex-girlfriend made fun of him for never reading books.

Most likely to be heckled by: The Anti-Porn Activist Network

One reviewer said: “Sampsell shares loneliness with such intensity that his book almost defeats it — both his and yours.”— Time Out New York

Scariest thing his dad’s ghost ever did: “I felt possessed by a demon, both awful and sad. Maybe this, six months after the fact, was how I grieved for Dad. Maybe his ghost said, You haven’t grieved for me properly. He didn’t care that I didn’t want to grieve for him or that I felt like I didn’t have to. He was going to make me, even if it was against my will.”

Question to ask at Q&A so as to shut up the guy who’s making a speech and not really asking a question at all: Ask about his poetry performance troupe, Haiku Inferno. It’s badass.

Childhood memory: When Mount St. Helens erupted, Sampsell thought he was witnessing Doomsday.

Memorable passage: “This is how I learned about cunnilingus from a policeman’s wife and became a legendary fryer at the same time.”

Comparable to: Sampsell can sound like David Sedaris: dark, deadpan and detailed. His direct, matter-of-fact, colloquial tone is reminiscent of Raymond Carver.

What’s that Common Pornography title mean, anyway? The inevitable reality: Everybody’s got dirt in their background.

Kevin Sampsell appears as part of a panel discussion about different forms of nonfiction on Friday, April 16, from noon-1 pm at Gonzaga’s Jundt Art Museum. Free. Sampsell will also contribute to a panel discussion of memoirs about fathers on Saturday, April 17, from 11 am-noon at the Hotel Lusso. Free.

Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibition @ Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU

Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 18
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About The Author

Blair Tellers

Blair Tellers is a freelance writer and a former Inlander intern.