Kathy Acker





A SUMMER EVENING at London's Institute Of Contemporary Arts. On stage Kathy Acker is reading her work over a musical backdrop provided by various members and cohorts of Psychic TV.

The audience is not large but curious. Mindful of the startling prose of this New York writer they semi-anticipate a Vicious American Female ready to snap the heads off the front rows (if anyone had dared to form a front row!)

But the small figure with the closely cropped hair and the metal adornment hanging from her ear has a surprisingly delicate voice and speaks with a quiet yet forceful intensity. Her fingers tremble as they grip her sheets of words. After some twenty minutes she turns her last page and leaves the stage. The music fades with her.

Blood And Guts In Highschool, Kathy Acker's best known work, is iconoclastic, highly (and brutally) sexual, heavily and deliberately plagiaristic. It emits an eerie contemporary resonance ('teach me a new language damn it, a language that means something to me') and devours established literary forms with a cannibalistic glee.

While that piece in particular would appear to link Acker inextricably to the bleak landscape of Lower Manhattan, it transpires that she now "half lives" in London's Hammersmith in a flat close to the Thames.

To continue reading this article and to discover many more (over 140,000 words-worth!), purchase Mick Sinclair’s Adjusting the Stars: Music journalism from post-punk London. 



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