Igpy Kin photographed by Lisa Murphy-Lamb
Igpy Kin | Photo: Lisa Murphy-Lamb

Igpy Kin

Polite, but rough around the edges, this committed degenerate wants to challenge you

Igpy Kin wants to challenge your idea of what respectable adulthood looks like.

A writer, editor, and literary curator who is currently the Writer-in-Residence at Loft 112, Calgary’s literary-themed East Village arts space, Kin recently moved back with their mother and grandfather following their MA in creative writing at Concordia in Montreal. Yet the genderqueer Kin describes themselves as a “committed degenerate.”

All of which begs the question: Why?

“I’m not a huge fan of respectability politics,” Kin says. “And I know it’s a lot easier for me to get away with shirking that whole respectability act, since I’m white and can pass as cisgender very easily. It’s a lot easier for me to buck trends and respectability than it is for a lot of other people. But I think it’s also important, if you’re in a position of privilege, to start to disrupt other people’s expectations of what respectable adulthood looks like—to sort of pave the way for other people. So I am very political. I’m polite, but rough around the edges.”

Kin’s creative life is to commit themselves to a kind of daily disruption—whether it’s through writing, curating manuscripts that get submitted to Loft 112 for various writing initiatives, or leading a group of city writers on Wednesday Night Writing sessions, to different pockets of the city.

“Night Writer is a really huge part of living my creative life,” Kin says. “And also doing the editing and keeping in touch with other writers is so huge and having a physical space [like Loft 112 to write at] is great, because when you have a community, you have people keeping you accountable, whether they’re bugging you to finish that story you’ve been talking about for months, or whether they’re sending you their story to look over.

“Just in general,” Kin adds, “I try to go for whatever opportunities come up, which I think has done more for my creative life than anything. Travelling to visit friends, going out in situations that make me uncomfortable, trying to expose myself to as much art as possible is the best fodder for creativity that I think I’ve had.”

For Loft 112 artistic director Lisa Murphy-Lamb, Igpy is a blend of skill sets, personality, and great timing.

“I quite liked Igpy’s approach to the world and writing,” Murphy-Lamb says. “Working here at Loft 112, I get the extreme pleasure of meeting many wonderful people—and Igpy happened to be one, who wandered in here and said, how can I help? We run something on Wednesday evenings called Night Writer, which is a place for people just to come in with a project—and write. Igpy came in and said, you know, I used to do this when I was away in Montreal, at university. I’d be interested in running it [here]. And the timing worked out beautifully.”

Kin’s entry point into the writing world as a child was through fantasy fiction series like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. What falling in love with fantasy fiction did was to teach Kin about building community through a shared passion, and why it’s so important to live a creative life.

“I have friends across the United States and as far away as Pakistan,” says Kin. “American Harry Potter fans really opened my eyes to Canadian politics, which is interesting because I think a lot of the time we use American politics to distract ourselves from paying attention to our own.”

In fact, Kin’s entire world grew through nights spent chatting online with other Harry Potter fans and sharing their own stories with each other.

“I wouldn’t have studied what I did at university had I not met people through Harry Potter,” Kin says. “I didn’t know what anthropology was, but one of my friends had a character who was really into anthropology, so every single one of us took at least one anthropology course after that. I ended up doing a degree in it.”

Of course, the popular perception nationwide is that any sensible committed degenerate dedicated to disrupting respectability culture would do that in Montreal—and yet Kin chose to come home.

“One of the best things about Calgary,” Kin says, “is you can still have a part in deciding what the arts scene is going to be, as opposed to going to Montreal and discovering there’s several dozen writers who are releasing something on any given night. Partly I did have family obligations and I did love Montreal, but I’ve always loved Calgary. I was born here. I grew up here for the first 26 years of my life. It’s so much more exciting to me to be in a place where you don’t quite know what the arts are going to look like in five years. It feels much more changeable here than in other arts scenes, and that’s much more interesting.”

But what about that unrespectable name?

It turns out there’s a story there—and Kin only shares it under one condition.

“It comes from a history class I had,” they say, “and boredom from waiting for a professor, and beyond that, anyone who wants to know has to come up to me while super wasted. They will have to accost me while drunk if they want to hear anymore.”

About The Storytelling Project

On November 16, 2015, Calgary Arts Development hosted a working session with approximately 30 creative Calgarians from various walks of life. Many of the small working groups voiced the need to gather and share more stories of people living creative lives.

That need has turned into The Storytelling Project.

The Storytelling Project raises awareness about Calgarians who, by living creative lives, are making Calgary a better city, effecting positive change and enriching others’ lives.

Have a story to share? Email us at news@calgaryartsdevelopment.com.