I first heard of Kimmy Walters on Twitter. I don’t remember how exactly, but it must have been as it always is with Twitter: somebody retweets something and I impulsively follow the retweeted party. Killer is much less refined than a lot of the poetry that usually comes to mind when you think of the genre (Shelley, Bukowski, Neruda). But for its apparent roughness, Killer is more playful than a lot of more “serious” poetry allows itself to be, maybe because of Walters’s nonchalant style. As such, the poems found in Killer are usually missing more specific context other than the small instances they present.
If it seemed as if Walters was trying to present us with the equivalent of ballads or any kind of more structurally pinned-down form of poetry, I’d say that Killer fails to live up to its purpose. But as it stands, that’s not what Walters is doing. Or at least it doesn’t seem so.
First of all there’s the humour in the poems, which comes across just as slyly as I imagine Walters intended. For example, a poem about the antipathy Walters feels for the Midwest, titled “The Man Next To Me On The Airplane Makes A Line Graph In Microsoft Excel And I Manipulate My Mood To Fit Its Trajectory.”
Most of the poems deal with Walters herself; they’re either about anxiety, or reflections of Walters’s inner-monologue, usually attempting to make life less banal for herself by riffing on any given situation. While on paper it seems as if such an approach would yield an unfocused result, Walters manages to bring it all in with a subdued sense of humour that permeates just about every piece in the collection. “Party Wish” is a great example of the shorter pieces in Killer: “oh to not appear to be dancing / and yet to also / not appear to / not be dancing.”
If I had to categorize the type of poetry in Killer I’d say it’s something between a confessional and the kind of quick-fire stand-up comedy that was famous in the ‘50s, except more melancholy. Overall, there aren’t really any deeper considerations presented by Walters other than her own experiences, which isn’t to say that the collection is in any way egoist, it simply has a limited scope.
That said, one point of praise Killer deserves regards its accessibility. Sure, there are no great eye-opening pieces riffing on existence or divinity, no self-aware formalism, but what we do get is entirely accessible to just about anyone. No prior poetic exposure required.
Is Killer ground-breaking? No. But it is earnest and funny and won’t make you deal with any towering metaphors or textual experimentalism — on the other hand, however, it also won’t challenge you.
Killer is refreshing and entertaining, as well as quite funny at times, but that’s about it.