I don’t write every day, and don’t really have a routine. My only rule is not in the morning, except occasionally to note down anything that’s come to me first thing. I used to use one Moleskine notebook for everything, but I recently got separate notebooks for each project. They’re loosely colour-coded: for example, green for tennis poetry.
Biros are best. I use pens interchangeably: whatever’s to hand. When I’m away from my notebook, I’ll email myself words. This means I can pick things up on either my phone or laptop. Usually, I end up with a thread of short emails to myself on a single topic. Last email:
Re: Tennis code poetry
Sinner: one letter off sinnet (tennis)
As the work moves forward, I transfer it to my computer. I have all my poetry backed up in a Dropbox folder called Poetry. I have a folder for each year under this. At the next level are folders for each project. Sometimes I edit drafts on my phone with the Dropbox and Microsoft Word apps. I save each draft with a version number and archive the old versions in a separate folder.
I work as a technical writer, mostly remote, four days a week. Technical writing has precision and concision in common with poetry. Technology finds its way into my poetry both as process and content. I like to balance digital projects with more tactile, sensual making.
I work in my living room. I have two desks: my work desk faces the window, and my personal desk, opposite, faces the wall. I write poetry on my personal desk, or sometimes on my sofa.
In the evenings I read a little, maybe poetry and a novel. I mostly write from 10 pm onwards. This is the time I come up with new ideas for projects or get out of bed to jot insistent phrases down.
Recent examples of “writing”:
· Staring at periodic table fridge magnets on the fridge door while cooking
· Working on a code poem in the Processing programming language on my laptop
· Hand-writing a palindrome and making an accompanying digital collage with the Pixomatic phone app
· Burning matchsticks then gluing them to paper
· Writing more lyrical/formal poems (more rarely)
When I started writing, intermittently as a teenager and in my early 20s, I’d wait around for inspiration, and when I did write it was quite a frantic and draining process. Now I write mostly with constraints or concepts: for example making words from periodic table symbols. Constrained writing is a lot easier to fit around work and chores. I can work for 10 minutes or half an hour and still move things forward, and it’s almost always fun.
Chris Kerr lives in
Brighton. His debut collection, Nam Gal Sips Clark, was published by Hesterglock Press. His first
pamphlet, Citidyll, was published by Broken Sleep Books. He is the
co-author of ./code
--poetry with Daniel Holden. Chris has
a chapbook forthcoming from Penteract Press in 2022.