Photo by Lee Woolcock
Originally from Philadelphia, US, Kiely came to Barcelona from New York two years ago. Through her alter-ego, Madame Eva, she has set up the increasingly successful Prostíbulo Poético— a ‘poetry brothel’ where clients pay putas (prostitutes) for original and intimate poetry readings.
I always wrote, whether it be songs, poems or short stories, but I didn’t realise I was a poet until I went to college in West Virginia and specialised in it. I was 18.
I like working in short forms. My attention span works better in short prose or poetry.
Poets are a strange breed. My mum always calls me her watcher because I pay so much attention. I got more nerdy the older I got. I always had a lot of friends, but it wasn’t till I got to college and focused on my studies that I stayed in my dorm room a lot working and never going out.
I’m a scatterbrain. I’m not the kind of writer who can plan my day and say: “Right, I’m gonna write from 10 until 4.” I need distraction. I tried turning everything off and just doing it, but it doesn’t work for me.
I do write every day, even if it’s only a couple of lines. If I don’t write, my skin crawls.
Poetry is like a drug. You don’t know what you are going to write, or when you are going to do it, but when it comes out, it comes from nowhere. Your theme is selected for you. The best part is when you get to the imaginative place.
If I have a dry spell, I go to museums and I write lines down, or titles of works or I just observe people.
There are so many poets I like. When I started my master’s, I felt really lost because there was so much literature I hadn’t studied. I had a really good professor who told me I needed to find my dead poets, so I found Philip Larkin. He was someone I could really grab on to. I liked erotica too, like Anïas Nin.
I started the poetry brothel here after seven months because I needed to join a poetry group. I had been a part of the one in New York and I’d also tried to start one in Texas, when I was staying with my parents for a while, but it ended up being banned. They did a protest and everything.
Eva was very different from me initially. She gave me the chance to be the person I wanted to be more like. She is very powerful. She wants women to love her and men to fear her! At the same time, she’s a lot more reserved than me. She’s not going to tell you anything about herself unless she wants to and it’s always on her terms.
I select the putas first and foremost on the standard of their poetry. They have to have an original voice and be prepared to work hard.
People love to dress up. Whether it’s Halloween or Carnaval, every culture has one day of dressing up. It’s an innate part of us.
Barcelona is very special and welcoming. In New York, [the poetry scene] is a lot more competitive and you can’t really cross genres. Here, everybody’s doing everything and it’s easy to collaborate.
I love day life. I’ve always been a morning person. My perfect day would involve sitting by myself in a plaça all day, writing or watching people, with a glass of wine.
I think every writer has a dark side in them and when you get inside yourself you sort of hit this. I worry about people who are happy all the time.