Manager of the AEAF Dark Horsey bookshop, Ken Bolton is a poet, art critic, and an editor and publisher. From Sydney, since 1982 he has lived in Adelaide. He produces the Little Esther books series and edited the magazines Otis Rush and Magic Sam. Literary publications include a Selected Poems (Penguin), and The Circus (2010), Untimely Meditations and At The Flash & At The Baci (all with Wakefield Press), and, more recently, A Whistled Bit Of Bop (Vagabond Press) and Sly Mongoose (Puncher & Watmann). Ken Bolton has also written a number of collaborative books of poetry, verse novellas etc with Melbourne writer John Jenkins. In 2000 he had a six month Australia Council residency in Rome. He edited Homage to John Forbes (Brandl & Schlesinger, 2002), a compendium of material on the poet. Art Writing, a selection of his art criticism pertaining to Adelaide, was published by the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia in August 2009.
For money (though not much money) Ken runs Dark Horsey Bookshop at the Australian Experimental Art Foundation.
He is interested in art theory and art history (in which he has lectured and tutored at various institutions), in continental philosophy and cultural studies - and in the innovative side of literature.
Ken Bolton's art criticism has appeared in many Adelaide publications (in Broadsheet, Otis Rush and regularly in the early 90s in The Advertiser). And he has published in Photofile, Art and Text, Art Monthly, Meanjin, in Agenda and Like and in Eyeline, and in magazines internationally. His current art writing, regularly updated, can be seen at critical-writing. Ken studied Fine Arts at Sydney University where he tutored for a time. He has taught in visual art or communications at: Wollongong Art School, Wollongong University; Flinders University; SA School of Art, Adelaide.
Ken won Melbourne University's Michel Wesley Wright Poetry Prize for 1990. His Two Poems - A Drawing of the Sky was shortlisted for the 1991 Victorian Premier's Award. Untimely Meditations was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's award in 1999. Most of his books since have been shortlisted for one Premier's prize or another.
There are a number of things he wishes to avoid in poetry (the cornily 'poetic', strong reliance on metaphor, and the supposedly ineffable and transcendent). More positively he writes to keep himself awake, and amused.
When that fails he knows where to find a good book.