Our Emotional Archaeology writer-in-residence tells us a bit about her work.
Have you written in response to visual art before?
Yes, I really like taking something in art as a starting point and then running off with it – usually at a tangent. My first big commission was from the Turner Centre in Margate, they commissioned me to write and perform poems in response to their Alex Katz exhibition, I really enjoyed that. I’ve also written in response to London’s William Morris Gallery, I’ve been writer-in-residence at Hartlepool Art Gallery, run a workshop at the South London Gallery for Goldsmiths MA students on poetry and art, and led art-based poetry workshops at Penlee House Gallery in Penzance. I also collaborate with artists. Unusually, perhaps, I’ve been collaborating with my partner, the visual artist, Tim Ridley. We weren’t sure whether we’d fall out by collaborating together. We began with ‘The Argument: Art V Poetry’, which is up on my website. Tim began with posting up an artwork of his (I remember I hated the first one!) and then I had 2 weeks to respond with a poem, he then had 2 weeks to respond with a new piece of art. We performed ‘The Argument’ at festivals throughout the UK and at the Poetry Café in London. We started doing it as a laugh and didn’t think it would go anywhere, but it’s been important for both of us and I wrote the title poem of my new collection, The Way the Crocodile Taught Me, (Seren, 2016) as part of that collaboration. We’re near to completing a new project, ‘an hour from here’, which we hope to be able to talk about soon.
How are you approaching the residency? What should we expect?
I’ve just spent a week at the Arnolfini, writing in response to Daphne Wright’s exhibition. It was great being locked in with her artworks before the gallery officially opened, just me, my notebook and these huge white casts of animals. It felt pretty intense but I think that’s how I like to write. I drafted 10 poems over that week. It’s been important to me that whatever I write needs to stand on its own and not be seen as an ‘interpretation’ of Daphne’s work. I’ve already started redrafting what I wrote during that week. It’ll take a while to see which of these drafts might become half-decent poems, I need to have some time away from them and then they’ll go through quite a lot of drafts. Still, I’m looking forward to the reading on 3 December. I’m not quite sure what you should expect, I suppose the whole thing of writing a poem is about discovery.
Are there any specific connections you can see between your work and Daphne’s?
Yes, I think there are. I admire Daphne’s boldness – I like to see this in poetry too, I like poetry that has a bit of welly and I also like emotion in poetry, so the title ‘Emotional Archaeology’ really resonates with me. I also think that we’re both unafraid to do work that some might deride as being ‘female’ (whatever that means) and that we’re also both up for messing about with any expectations some might have regarding gender and what women are expected to make.
Katrina Naomi will be presenting the work she has been developing through her residency on 3 December.