Monday, April 15, 2019

Kimberly Campanello: My (small press) writing day

My writing days have evolved according to the kind of work I’m doing. I wrote the entirety of my first book in public spaces: a now-closed café in Miami Beach, the Kingfisher chipper in Dublin, and a series of cafés in Andalucía. My recent 796-page conceptual and visual poetry book seemed to require the use of an entire, preferably king-sized, bed to spread pages out on and a printer to do continual tests. So I used many beds and many printers along the way for that one. My current process is more rooted. I’m fortunate in that in the summer and days when I have no university teaching I have whole days, sometimes in a row, to write. I also use a lot of weekends to write. I find that if I’m teaching or marking on a particular day, I’m worthless creatively. When I have a dedicated writing day, I get up when I feel like it. I avoid making any kind of social or other plans for that day beyond the foods I want to eat and a vague sense of when I want to eat them. I then fairly compulsively clear the areas I want to use – the dining table, the armchair, the back garden ‘bistro’ set surrounded by laundry if the weather’s decent. I move from seat to seat and scribble something barely legible in pencil in my notebook. If it’s worthy, I type it up that day, or the next day if I’m not too sure about it. Sometimes I’ve accumulated scribblings in my notebook from my train commute to Leeds, and I type them up and play around with them to see what they are like. I take frequent breaks to do housework that  has accumulated. I know some writers, particularly women writers, think this is a bad thing, but I actually find it useful for feeling into the language space I’m in on that particular day. I grew up working in my family’s restaurant in Indiana, and my imagination is to some extent activated by repetitive physical work. I’ve found that having the freedom to move between that kind work and writing work in the space of an hour is ideal for my creativity. The best writing days are the ones in which I ‘get it’ in the first part of the day and I feel a sense of closure or not needing to go on. I then find I have a day off to do something else. That’s what happened today, so I wrote this!

Kimberly Campanello’s poetry books and pamphlets include ConsentImagines, Strange Country (on the sheela-na-gig stone carvings), and Hymn to Kālī (her version of the Karpūrādi stotra). In April 2019, zimZalla Avant Objects released MOTHERBABYHOME, a 796-page book of conceptual and visual poetry on the St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Ireland. Also in April, above/ground press published her chapbook running commentary along the bottom of the tapestry. She is Programme Leader for Creative Writing and a member of the Poetry Centre in the School of English at the University of Leeds. She lives in York, UK.

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