“People change.” (A bit.) The act of longitudinal autobiography is a revealing one. I dug up multiple ways I wished to present myself starting from 1993. Then, there is a reference to me previously smoking, which as a non-smoker I don’t recollect at all (post-break-up sulks aside). I additionally was a little shocked by my twenty-something self’s brazenness.
Back when I was still interested in being a jobbing actor, say around the turn of the century, I had been asked by my agent to choose a stage name, as "Kathleen" apparently was too boring. I chose a name I had been given at birth in the Inupiaq village Ulġuniq where I lived until I was two: "Kiirik" (as far as I can tell, a kiirik is a type of corvid Alaskans call the camprobber). I acted under the name "Kiirik Bryson" for a couple years, and then I tried to segue my name back to "Kathleen Bryson". My first novel Mush was published under the name "Kathleen Kiirik Bryson", which I can see in a couple of the autobiographies here. Kiirik is my name too.
I have never to my knowledge mentioned my romantic status, preferring to keep that private. I stopped putting in my birth year and age shortly after I turned 30. The interests in moomintrolls, evolutionary bisexuality theories (the dig at Dan Savage in 1996 is a reference to what I perceived as his biphobia), writing, painting, filmmaking, witchiness, injustice, acting, satire, spicy food, chimpanzees, Neanderthals, nature and the outdoors, pop-punk music and surrealism seem to have remained constant throughout the years.
And like everyone, I have confidently boasted in print about more than a few “ongoing projects” (a magic show exhibition, yet-unpublished novels, unrealised feature films, etc.) that have not yet come to realization. In an ever-creepier, hyper-reflection of department store triple mirror tunnels, I now have self-reflected on my self-reflection.
ONCE UPON A SPACETIME
VARIOUS AUTOBIOGRAPHIES THROUGH THE YEARS
City Lit website, London, 2020
Dr. Kathleen Bryson received her Ph.D. in Evolutionary Anthropology from University College London, and has taught human evolution and primatology at UCL, CityLit, Westminster School and the ProCredit Academy. She specialises in ambiguity tolerance in humans and other great apes, in particular evolutionary theory applied to ingroup/outgroup distinctions (prejudice). She recently completed a postdoctoral position in the Department of Biological and Experimental Psychology at Queen Mary University of London. She also is a published author of over 100 fiction pieces, including 3 novels of literary fiction. The most recent novel is The Stagtress, which playfully skews evolutionary theory (which she certainly believes in within real life), published in 2019 by Fugue State Press (New York). An artist-writer-filmmaker for many years before undertaking her PhD at the age of 40, she has had 10 solo art exhibitions, most recently a show on space cosmologies called Once Upon a Spacetime at the Royal Institution in 2019, and has just completed her second directed feature film Baked Alaska (her home state), for which she wrote the screenplay. Read about her work at
Academia website, London, 2018
I am a postdoctoral researcher at Queen Mary University of London. I received my PhD in Evolutionary Anthropology from UCL in 2017. I specialise in studies of ambiguity tolerance in humans and other great apes, in particular evolutionary theory applied to ingroup/outgroup distinctions in the context of social identity theory. My research interests include essentialism, ingroups/outgroups in an evolutionary context, hybridity, cyborg studies, bisexuality in humans and other great apes, human-animal studies, primatology, infrahumanisation and dehumanisation (including racial and age-based prejudice). The title of my Ph.D. thesis was “The evolving binary: Perspectives on infra- and ultrahumanisation”. It focused on ambiguity (in)tolerance towards liminal categories amongst four well-known dichotomies (human—animal, human—machine, heterosexual—homosexual, male—female), i.e., prejudice directed towards non-polarised/ambiguous sets such as non-modern hominins, non-human great apes, cyborgs, bisexuals, transgender people, so-called gender-non-conforming people, intersex people and non-binary people. I hypothesised a potential social mechanism that might be used to counter infrahumanisation that I coined as “ultrahumanisation”.
Create50 Website, rural Germany, 2016
Kathleen Bryson’s day-job as an evolutionary anthropologist means she wears labcoats, geek specs. Night-job as artist-filmmaker means she wears berets, smocks. Kathleen was born in the Arctic Circle at the very top of Alaska in December, so she has no rising sign astrologically, since technically the sun didn't appear until she was six weeks old.
Need & Error Artist Bio, London, 2015
Alaskan multiartist Kathleen Bryson has had two fiction novels published (Mush, 2001 and Girl on a Stick, 2008). Following her co-directed feature The Viva Voce Virus (UK 2008, dir. Bryson/Möykky), Kathleen was accepted to Berlinale Talent Campus; her films have screened at 20+ festivals. She has had nine solo painting exhibitions and participated in multiple group shows, including one in an ex-brothel/erstwhile Nirvana venue. Kathleen lives in North London, where she's finishing her doctorate in evolutionary anthropology; in post-production for feature Baked Alaska; writing a novel about a little girl with stag horns; and collaborating with filmmaker Sarah Wood on a magic show.
UCL Publishers' Prize for Student Writing 2014: A Collection of Short Stories, short story "The Boys I Mean are Not Refined", London, Autumn 2014:
Kathleen Bryson, born and raised in Alaska, has had two fiction novels published: Mush (2001), described by Mslexia as "stunningly good... an atmospheric novel with a slow, filigree beauty... Sharply reminiscent of The Shipping News" and Girl on a Stick (2008), described by writer Ali Smith as “sassy, clever, bright, dark, true and, most importantly, alive. A huge book, and full of goodness.” Kathleen lives in London, where she writes, paints, acts, directs films, makes music and assembled her PhD thesis in Evolutionary Anthropology. She's working on The Stagtress, an Angela Carter-esque novel about a little girl with stag horns.
Haque magazine, poem “The End of Grunge”, London, Autumn 2014:
Kathleen Bryson’s poems have been published in Magma, Shrike, Krax/Rump Books (a single-author pamphlet), Forever Underground, NorthBiNorthwest, Mouseion, Haque, Café Aphra, Open Wide, Poetry Kit and Shot of Science. She received Honourable Mention for her poem “Camlet Moat, Epitaph” in the Poetry Kit Summer Competition 2013. She moved to Seattle in August 1991 and left exactly three years later for London.
Haque magazine, short story “The Evening and the Afternoon”, London, Autumn 2014:
Kathleen Bryson grew up in Alaska and after that spent a few years in Sweden. The climate was pretty much the same in both places. This story, also illustrated by Kathleen, is from a just-finished episodic novel called The Witch of Agnesi. Her novel Mush was published in 2001 by Diva Books and her novel Girl on a Stick was published in 2008 by Suspect Thoughts Press. She is working on a Choose Your Own Adventure novel about a little girl with antlers called The Stagtress and a science-fiction novel about chimpanzee-human interbreeding called Hybrid Vigor. Ideally, and in addition, she is working on her thesis in evolutionary anthropology. Thus the chimps. She can be reached at (redacted email).
Haque magazine, excerpt from novel-in-progress The Stagtress; and poem "Grey Amanda", London, Summer 2013:
Kathleen Bryson, born/raised in Alaska, has had two novels published (Mush, 2001; Girl on a Stick, 2008). She likes to capture "gimmicky" and "flamboyant" (in the words of former flatmates) recipes such as vodka parfaits in a handwritten recipe book, not too dissimilar to the witch's spellbook in which she wrote down every "spell" she came across when she was 8.
Curve magazine, travel article, London, September 2009:
Contributing writer Kathleen Bryson, who wrote about the joys of traveling with her parents and siblings in "Korean Family Vacation", was born and raised in Alaska. She is the author of Mush (Diva Books) and Girl on a Stick (Suspect Thoughts), which The Oregonian described as a “cross between Tom Robbins and Francesca Lia Block.” Her feature film directorial debut, The Viva Voce Virus, was released in 2008. She is in pre-production for her second feature film, Spaceships Over Corvallis, which she has written and will be directing. She was selected to attend the prestigious Berlinale Talent Campus 2009 at the Berlin International Film Festival. Currently, Bryson lives in East London, where she paints, writes, acts and directs. She digs Chagall, Moomintrolls, chapchae, bonobos, Neanderthals and Los Campensinos! – but not gardens.
Portland Queer anthology, short story "Ghost Bikes", London, Summer 2009:
Kathleen Bryson is the author of two novels, Mush (Diva Books, 2001) and Girl on a Stick (Suspect Thoughts Press, 2008). Born and raised in Alaska, she has degrees in anthropology, Swedish, and film. As a painter and performer, she has had eight solo art exhibitions, played Hawaiian slide guitar in the laziest Riot Grrl band in history, and acted in more than twenty short films, most recently as blonde bombshell Diana Dors in I Am Diana Dors. Her feature film directorial debut, The Viva Voce Virus, started its festival run in November, 2008. Her [film] website: (defunct website).
Chroma magazine, translation from the Swedish of the Edith Södergran poem "Love", Portland, Oregon, Spring 2008:
Kathleen Bryson, author of the novels Mush and Girl on a Stick, received her BA in Swedish from the University of Washington in 1992, and was the co-winner of that year's Peterson Scholarship. She lived three years in Stockholm, where she studied Archaeology at Stockholms Universitet. Her first feature film, The Viva Voce Virus, will be finished this year.
Suspect Thoughts Press/She Devil Press, Girl on a Stick novel, Portland, Oregon, 2008:
Alaskan-born Kathleen Bryson's first novel Mush was published in 2001. She has two B.A. degrees (Anthropology and Swedish), studied a postgraduate year of acting at the London Academy of Performing Arts, and received her M.A. in Film from the London College of Printing. She has lived nineteen years in Alaska, thirteen in Europe, and five in the continental U.S.
Aesthetica magazine, short story, London, October 2004:
Kathleen Bryson is Alaskan-born-and-raised. Her first novel Mush (Diva Books, 2001) was set in her home state. She lives in London, where she makes some money from editing, writing and painting, and no money from low-budget filmmaking (redacted former website).
Groundswell anthropology, short story "Star Soup", London, Summer 2002:
Kathleen Kiirik Bryson is a novelist/actor/painter who was born and raised in Alaska. Her first novel, Mush, was published by Diva Books in 2001, and she is just finishing her second, Girl on a Stick, a pitch-black comedy about rebus puzzles, Catholicism and Americans. Kathleen hopes to be co-directing the low-budget digital feature The Viva Voce Virus in the summer of 2003 (for which she's also written the screenplay). It too is a surreal dark comedy.
The Diva Book of Short Stories, short story “The Day I Ate My Passport”, London, Spring 2000:
Kathleen Kiirik Bryson was born on the northern Arctic coast of Alaska in December 1968 and grew up on the Kenai Peninsula. She left home at 18. Since then she has dug up Viking graves, been in a Riot Grrl band, exhibited her paintings in a brothel, trained as an actor and received her MA in Independent Film. She has lived many years in both Stockholm and Seattle, currently making her home in London, and prefers overcast days to sunny ones. She works as a freelance editor and tries to divide any time left over between writing, acting and painting. Her first novel Mush will be published this autumn by Diva Books.
Twisting End, single-author poetry chapbook for Krax Publications (Rump 29), London, 1997:
Kathleen Bryson originates from Alaska and is currently in London studying film and media. She is an artist and writer also and had an art/poetry exhibition in June 1997 from where some of this work derives. All of the poems and illustrations in this selection are by her.
Magma magazine, poem “Hometown, Alaska”, London, Summer 1996:
Kathleen Bryson is directing a play at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer.
Shrike magazine, poem “Goldfinger”, London, Spring 1996
Kathleen Bryson, an Alaskan of 27 and a fan of phad thai, with divided attention writes, acts and paints. In between, if not doing something sexier, such as sex, or more mundane, such as work, she studies film at the London Institute.
NorthBiNorthwest magazine, poem “Arena” and painting “Sheela-na-gig”, Seattle, Washington, April/May 1993:
Kathleen Bryson, 24-year-old feminist, ABBA aficionado. Likes painting, acting, Doonesbury, hot baths, sex, Germanic verb declension. Really likes Germanic verb declension. Doesn't care for alcoholism or Dan Savage. Favorite book is The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. Horribly addicted to early eighties superficial pop music, i.e. Culture Club, Debarge. No longer addicted to cigarettes or Duran Duran.
AND HERE IS A LITTLE MORE ABOUT ME, IN A NOW-DEFUNCT MUSICAL CONTEXT:
The name “Glass Women” comes from four sources which coalesced into molten glass the same fortnight in a wanton display of synchronicity:
1) a print description of a red-and-orange-glowing human heart inside a glass woman in Angela Carter’s novel The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman;
2) a chance street encounter with a lifesize discarded see-through plastic female torso (quickly secured and brought home by Jessica, and now our band logo);
3) a tour of the Wellcome Museum’s exhibition of the 1920s-inspired Transparent Woman medical model and the concept of breaking outside predeterministic ideas of the body as solely a predictable machine and
4) the pondered idea of (female) people themselves being forced into crashable paradigms such as glass ceilings, glass-house domestication: brood mares/sows/cows in glass menageries.
Yep, we have an ambiguous relationship with our own band name, recognising both attraction and oppression to it and by it in ourselves as Partially Glass Women.
Like our glass prototype, we both have multiple identities: Kathleen is a novelist, poet, painter, actor, filmmaker, musician and evolutionary scientist. Jessica is an illustrator, cinematographer, animator, painter, musician and filmmaker. We share crossover tastes in 1980s synth music, folk songs, fairy tales, macabre medical anthropology, DIY filmmaking, paganism, nature and surrealist art, and our music together shows our weird points of transfer.
Our sound: Electrofolk with warts. Dirt-fuzz through a vocoder.
Be on the lookout for more weirdness involving homoerotic Russian soldiers torch-singing on the Kalinin Front, a fox with commitment issues, visionary nature lucid dream remixes, dark Finnish folksong transliterations about Madonna/Whore complexes, and foot-stomping Alaskan Gold Rush sing-along, and fly your freak flags high.
– Kathleen and Jessica (2014)