Author Ryan Kent pens poignant tribute to the life, legacy and languish of Mark Lanegan

Author Ryan Kent pens poignant tribute to the life, legacy and languish of Mark Lanegan

- By Ramon Gonzales

Read Kent's poem offering tribute to one of alternative music's most formative contributors.

As a veteran cultural commentator and an accomplished author, Ryan Kent has long established his credentials as as an essential voice within the space of outsider art. His published collection of poetry includes Poems For Dead People, This Is Why I Am Insane, Hit Me When I Am Pretty, and Everything Is On Fire: Selected Poems 2014-2021.

In addition to his work as a staff writer for RVA Magazine and freelance journalist based out of Richmond, VA., Kent body of work also boasts two co-authored poetry compilations with Brett Lloyd for Rare Bird Books - Tomorrow Ruined Today and Some Of Us Love You.

Speaking to the kind of prolific creative headspace that Kent operates with, the wordsmith also has a spoken word album due out called, Dying Comes With Age which includes readings and musical compositions from the likes of D. Randall Blythe (Lamb of God), Laura Pleasants (Kylesa), Jimmy Bower (Down, EyeHateGod), Mike IX Williams (EyeHateGod), Adam Kravitz (Gritter), and more.

Given his artistic breadth, it makes sense that the recent passing of Screaming Trees pillar and early grunge architect Mark Lanegan resonated just a bit more than untimely musician's departure for Kent. Profoundly impacted by the archives of the Lanegan's work, Kent did what all artists do to during times of loss and languish - he created.

Picking up his pen, Kent strung together stanzas with a kind of poetic rhythm that is translates like a quality conversation - the kind you have commiserating over a stiff drink at a bar. Honoring the 'howl' synonymous with Lanegan's stylistic signature, Kent's lines convey pangs in their poignancy.

In his own words, Ryan Kent offer his farewell to an important artistic ally gone too soon.

I don’t know what rock you’ve been under, but the rock I’ve been under had Mark Lanegan there. I’ve met a lot of people like Mark Lanegan, but none of them like Mark Lanegan. They tried to be like Lanegan and Lanegan didn’t try. Lanegan already was. In 39 years, I never met Mark Lanegan, but you listen to enough of someone’s music and maybe you feel like you know them, which is nuts, but whatever. In the business of rock and roll, there are a slim few who can be mentioned in the same breath as Tom Waits or Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen, but here we are taking deep ones, about a leather lung from Seattle. In some of the lowest times of my life, Lanegan’s songs made me feel like Hell, but there was a sense of peace in it. A reckoning. Someone singing to me about my life sentence by singing to me about theirs. In a black and blue world, it’s nice to sit with a guy who has a lot of bruises and scars of his own. When I found out he’d died on February 22nd, I did what any good fan of Lanegan would:

I smoked a bunch of cigarettes and listened to the man sing. And man, could he sing.

Is It Howling There Too

by Ryan Kent

it rains sometimes

leaves turn upside down

clouds are cigarette smoke

eyes laugh pink with red lines

cough up a lung sometimes

makes you talk soft

inhale a new year sometimes

makes you look lost

it rains so hard sometimes

all the lights go off

can you feel that chill

how much did it cost

it is howling here

is it howling there too

it is howling to me

is it howling to you

can’t sleep sometimes

dark bird on the power line

car backfired three blocks up

gunshots sometimes

maybe you’ll tattoo your hands

maybe you’ll walk through the rain

maybe your hotel room burns

maybe it’s february again

just can’t sleep sometimes

the table has turned

if they can’t feel that chill

maybe they’ll learn

it is howling here

is it howling there too

it is howling to me

is it howling to you

there are wolves here tonight
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