My conversation with Katie Keys was one of my first interviews - even before the launch of The Glass Coin – and looking back has reminded me how far I’ve come as a journalist, editor, and writer. Katie’s poems appeared in our first issue. She was – and is – an inspiration to me and I wondered how her life has changed since we spoke in 2010. Here is a short update on Katie Keys.
“So poetry is something other, something else, something pared down and real and possible to say the things that can’t be said.”
Katie Keys, 2010
GC: In 2010, when we first spoke you were in the midst of your residency
at Camden Town Unlimited. You had hoped to garner experience as well
as build a body of work. How did you realize these goals? Where there
any unexpected outcomes of the experience?
KK: The residency at Collective in Camden was a fantastic opportunity. I wrote, I ran workshops for the local community, and I pieced together a significant body of work inspired by the area, many of which were included in ‘An Apology to the Librarian’, the collection of Camden poems published by the local council when the residence ended.
GC: You seemed to be on an inspiration-high at the time. Have you been
able to maintain that over the last two years?
KK: As with everything, my writing ebbs and flows. But one of the things that keeps me on track is to make sure I tweet a poem a day, which I’ve been doing now for nearly three years.
GC: Some of the things that inspired you then were newspapers to Camden,
vaulted ceilings, being cold, deadlines, Twitter, pictures and other
people’s work. At the time you had an “urge to put them into words,”
what do you have an “urge” to put into words now?
KK: I left London and moved to Australia at the end of 2010, and am currently Cafe Poet in residence at Rue Bebelons, a little bar in the centre of Melbourne. So over the last year I’ve been writing a lot about home and homelessness, place and displacement, caffeine and red wine.
GC: Do you find Twitter as useful as part of your writing process now that
the initial boom has plateaued? What has changed over the years? How
did you change to adapt?
KK: The online poetry community is still booming and I love being a part of it. But I must admit that after three years of tweeting a tiny little poem a day in 140 characters or less, I do find it harder to produce longer works.
In the last year, I have started doing some work as a conference poet: tweeting non-fiction poems that are inspired by or summarise conferences or events. I love the way that Twitter has started adding meta-text to live events, a sort of inaudible rumble that adds humour, context or critique.
GC: What else have you been up to since your residency ended?
KK: Publishing ‘An Apology to the Librarian’, travel through Asia, moving to Australia, churning out tiny little poetry zines, doing performances and conference poet gigs. And I’ll be speaking about developing audiences at Melbourne’s Emerging Writers Festival in May.
GC: I hope you enjoyed revisiting your interview from 2010. After two
years working on your craft, what would you say to to yourself two
KK: It’s been lovely to look back on two year’s of writing. What would I say to myself back then? Hmmmm… Keep going. It’s worth the effort. Remember how good this feels and keep that in mind when things get hard. If you want to write, then write. There’s no excuses anymore.