In the second of our Burning Bush 2 interviews this week, Dublin & London based American poet Kimberly Campanello answers a few questions
How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing since I was a child. I wrote poems and stories from an early age, and I’ve never really stopped.
What was your first publication? My first publication was in the student literary magazine from where I did my first degree (Butler University, Indianapolis). The poem, ‘Our Lady of Frigidaire’, was about my frustration with the Catholic Church’s representations of the Virgin Mary.
What have been the most significant developments, negative and positive if you like, in poetry in Ireland over the last 10 years or so? I’m from the U.S., and I’ve been living in Ireland for the past four years. So my sense of Irish poetry prior to coming here was mainly through Irish poetry books published by Wake Forest University Press. This, of course, did not offer a complete sense of what was happening in Irish poetry. My move to Ireland followed and coincided with major developments in international and Irish publishing – online, e-books, and traditional books and magazines. Online literary magazines like Burning Bush 2 showcase a diverse Irish literary scene, and the recent special Irish issue of Penduline (a U.S. lit mag) guest-edited by Dave Lordan is solely online. Even the fact that my publisher Doire Press (Galway) can distribute printed books online themselves means that my book, though published in Ireland, is available to readers in the U.S. For example, a friend of mine from Elkhart, Indiana, who was in Girl Scouts with me as a child ordered a copy from Doire the other day because she saw a post on Facebook! This level of access was just not possible during my formative years learning about poetry on my own and in my formal studies. I’d love to teach a course on Irish poetry in a U.S. university with all these resources and my experience of living in Ireland at my fingertips!
What do you think needs to happen, and what would you like to see happen, in Irish poetry over the next few years? I’d like to see more critical and polemical debate among poets in Ireland in the form of essays, panel discussions, symposiums, letters to the editor, articles in the Poetry Ireland newsletter, or even podcasts regarding poetics. In terms of polemical starting points for these debates: Are poets based in Ireland defaulting into writing in certain modes? Why do we each write in the ways we do? What’s at stake? What do/don’t we like and why? Who are our influences and why? I’d also like to know from curators and programmers why certain poets are selected to give readings or be published – and this why needs to be more more substantive than the fact that said poet has X number of published poems/books and has won Y number of prizes. I’d like to read really well-considered curatorial ‘captioning’ (written and verbal) around readings, festivals, and publications. Amidst the proliferation of poetry, I’d even love to see genuine knock-down-drag-out fights over style and content that really deal with poetics regardless of the ‘politics’ and niceties of the poetry scene – and of course there should be hugs at the end.
In Ireland one hears a lot about the pull of either Boston or Berlin: what do you think, are we European writers in the English language or are Irish writers, in general, mostly steeped in the Anglosphere? Without wanting to sound crass, I think Irish writers/writers based in Ireland are ‘neither meat nor fish’. Ireland has immense European connections and immense anglosphere connections and a range of internal considerations as well. So all of the above and more.
Finally, if you had to recommend one regular poetry event in Ireland to someone, what would it be? The Performing Poetry Project by New Dublin Press is putting on some wonderfully ecclectic gigs! At the last event they had best homemade macaroons I’ve ever eaten.
Kimberly Campanello’s debut poetry collection Consent was published earlier this year by Doire Press.