Writing for me is a constant undertaking. I work with collage, single poems/objects or longer sequences made from appropriated text from innumerable sources. The collection of the material is always occurring. I have drawers full of ripped newspaper, magazine articles, old prescriptions, pencil drawings of eyes that my daughter produced on yellow card, bits of pages of books, glue sticks, manuscripts of speeches made by Cameron and May in the Commons, a polystyrene mannequin head, tablets of wood from B&Q (the hardware store). The pockets of my trousers contain receipts, sweet wrappers, little scribbled notes containing language stolen from commuters on trains, and so on and on and on.
I suppose I decide what to write about, driven by the news, my mood, something my wife, Cath, said over breakfast, and begin in the morning to gather snatches of language from my self-produced archive. My daughter Emily leaves for school with her mum; the dog goes nuts at being left behind. I must decide the medium upon which to place the linguistic material. Glass, wood, paper, Perspex. I drink coffee early on, usually cold through preoccupation with other things. I eat berries and dark chocolate. I have a desk, old and heavy, and an upcycled dining chair where I sit and make piles of paper. This is where I begin to make associations within the disparate language and the glue comes out. The sticking of the first piece is a rush, a real physical rush. A text is forming and from there I am led by instinct, a misplaced notion of purpose, works by others that I love, the language itself, and the poem begins to take shape.
I’ll take breaks. The dog likes a lap to sit on. I oblige. Another brew, tea this time. I’m thinking about dinner, what we’ll have, how I’ll put it together.
Back to work and Joni Mitchell’s Blue album on loud. Really loud. Sometimes I remove pieces from the poem and replace them elsewhere, other times I decide to cover them completely. Sometimes a whole poem, on A3 or larger, hours of work, is itself cut and ripped to pieces and used in another context on another day. I let the dog out. I chase the cat from the bottom stair where she’s fucked the carpet kneading her claws. Lunch is easy, a potato, tuna pasta. I’m a carb monster. After lunch, heavier, I slow down, begin to second guess the morning’s work, walk away, read Maggie O’Sullivan or Robert Sheppard, go back, leave again.
I’m starting to think about drink. I have to wait for the glue to dry, the paper and the poem to harden. The school run comes next. I wear a jumper (even in summer) that pulls up over my face, collect Emily, come home and do Dad things. The materials on the desk are swept with one arm into a drawer. I hoover the area, losing some bits and pieces of language in the process. I wash my hands, start dinner and have that drink. Beer or whisky. Cath’s home now and I’m a family man for a few hours. I lay with Emily on her bed and we read or listen to Einaudi till she sleeps. I drink more and watch crap on the tele with Cath. I almost always fall asleep on the couch.
Adam Hampton is a poet and artist based in the UK. He is currently completing a PhD on textual superimposition and illegibility in innovative poetry.