Thursday, December 12, 2013

Kay Boyle, the Most Dangerous Writer in America

"Kay Boyle is the most dangerous woman in America." - S.I. Hayakawa, president of San Francisco State College (now University)

Kay Boyle by Man Ray.

Local filmmaker Kelley Baker has been working to tell the story of this dangerous woman for nearly 30 years. In 1983 he was researching the stories of the expatriates who made up the demimonde of Paris in the 1920s. A name, that of writer Kay Boyle, kept coming up. Further digging revealed that Boyle was at the epicenter of much of that world and knew most of the key players, writers like Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, as well as artists like Marcel Duchamp, Picasso and Brancusi.

Married three times and the mother of six children, she wrote constantly, publishing nearly 40 works of fiction and nonfiction. She was also a political activist and human rights advocate, involving herself in movements from anti-McCarthyism to civil rights to protesting the war in Vietnam. In short, a filmmaker's dream subject.

Kay with her second husband, Laurence Vail.

"Kay Boyle was an amazing role model—not just for women or artists, she was a role model for all of us," said Baker of the woman who has inspired him to make the film he's titled "Dangerous: Kay Boyle."

"She was an example of how to live a full life and have a profound effect on the lives of others. I don’t want to see this legacy lost."

Baker is on the verge of finishing his film, a journey that's taken him from a wet-behind-the-ears young filmmaker to an accomplished professional who's worked on films with the likes of Gus Van Sant, Todd Haines and Will Vinton. His work on the Boyle film has been awarded the support of the Fredericksburg Athenaeum, which allows him to raise tax-deductible contributions for the $20,000 he needs to finish the film.

Kelley Baker.

"There are a lot of interesting projects out there that need your help, so why choose this one?" he asks. His answer? "Because if Kay’s life and work inspires just one person to speak out, not be intimidated and to help change someone’s life, then your donation did something important."

For as little as $25 you can get your name on the credits of the film, and the perks go up from there. I urge you to consider donating or, heck, to donate in the name of one of the folks on your holiday gift list. After all, who wouldn't like to see their name in lights?

All photos from Kelley's website.


Susan G. Hauser said...

You had me at Studs Terkel. Fascinating story. Thanks for sharing, KB!

Kathleen Bauer said...

I love Studs, too, Susan! And Kelley's project to tell Boyle's story is an important one. I want to read some of her work now!