K.I. Press is a writer originally from Alberta, now living in Winnipeg. Her three books of poetry are Types of Canadian Women(Gaspereau Press), Spine (Gaspereau Press), and Pale Red Footprints (Pedlar Press). She has no idea what she will write next. She teaches creative writing and literature at Red River College in Winnipeg.
Questions & Answers
Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?
The only moment that comes to mind is one night when I was 9 years old reading in bed. I was reading Alice Through the Looking Glass—for about the umpteenth time—and I realized that I had accidentally memorized the entirety of Jabberwocky. I then took it upon myself to memorize as many poems as possible and inflict recitations on other people with great frequency. A few years of this and I was writing my own more regularly than I was memorizing others.
How/where do you find inspiration today?
Oh, from anything, but largely from stories. I’ve been very interested lately in how poetry meets fiction and how to do narrative, character and voice in poetry. This may not last, but for now I am trying to find inspiration in quirky historical moments.
What is your writing process?
I have a hard time writing new material in bits and pieces. I usually have to wait until I can get several weeks of vacation in order to work on a new project. Those times seem rarer and rarer though as life goes on, so I think that will have to change if I am ever to write anything again! Revisions I can work on here and there, though most often I need to work in the middle of the night. I get easily distracted and I have always found that everything else around me is quieter at night.
What is your revision/editing process?
I read everything aloud as often as I can. Often I will find a phrase that just doesn’t sound right, and I have to stop and figure out why and what would make it right. I often find that my first drafts of poems are incomplete thoughts that need to be developed, and sometimes merged with other incomplete thoughts. After a certain point, I need someone else to read and discuss the poem, like in a writing group. I don’t use everything that my friends tell me—sometimes I am just convinced that I am right!—but often sharing a poem with a group will come up with unique insights that can help solve a problem.
Did you write poetry in high school? If yes, how did you get started? If no, why not?
Oh yes, I was already writing poetry before high school, but in high school was when it really blossomed. This was mainly because I had great teachers and met several other students who were interested in poetry. We made a “creative writing club” which published an annual anthology and had semi-annual literary readings in the school library.
Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. websites, text books, etc.)?
Books! Just read. Look for local contests and workshops for teen writers, but make sure you they are put on by legitimate organizations (like your local arts council or writers’ ).
When you were high school aged, what would have been helpful/motivating to hear from a published poet?
Poetry comes in many shapes and sizes and styles, and part of it is personal preference. Though there are many things you can teach someone about poetry, nothing beats just exploring and reading.