The Spaces In Which We Write: Kris Underwood on Poets’ Preferred Writing Spots.
Recently, there was an article on 15 Writer’s Bedrooms at Apartment Therapy. This got me thinking-not so much about bedrooms, but about the spaces in which we write. What do our fellow poets & writers spaces look like?
I set out to see how other writers set up shop. Here’s what I got:
“My writing space is kind of an anti-space, in that I set up a cute desk in my bedroom, surrounded by poetry books, and I prefer to write at the dining room table. Now that I think about it, it’s probably because, despite wanting to get away from the children and the house and the chores… to write, it all informs my writing more than anything. I guess my muse is smarter than I am.”
-Jill Crammond, poet
“Two years ago, my fiancé built for me a tiny writing house up on the hill in the woods. While he hammered and sawed, I wrote lines and quotes from my favorite poets and writers into the wood of the posts and beams and sills. Knowing the words of the masters are literally holding me up gives me a great source of inspiration. The tiny house is the place where I go to escape the bustle of the main house where I maintain a corner for a desk and my bookshelves. I use the woods’ house to work on my novel, write poetry, and coach clients around their creative projects. Space is everything to me.”
-Jodi Paloni, poet
“I’d like to echo Jill by saying that I have a lovely (if cluttered) desk in my room, the Pride & Prejudice room, with lots of books, old journals, and idea boards. But if I need to get serious work done or really concentrate…it’s the dining room table all the way.”
-Michelle A.L. Singer, poet
“I work at a large L-shaped desk that looks out through French doors to my back yard, which features a landscaped rock-garden slope. Occasionally I see a bird, even more rarely a fox, and once a day the neighbor’s tailless cat–I call him Stumpy–stares at me through the glass as he makes his rounds. As you can see in this picture, I’ve covered the wall behind me with white-board wallpaper. Along the top I have a daily calendar to track my VCFA packet–original writing, revisions, reading, and critical essays. Below I put to-do lists, but I also use the space to outline creative writing projects. The white board is my crutch, my totem, and at times, my muse.”
-Patrick Ross, VCFA student & writer
“ It has a steak dinner on the ceiling, a shy man covered with text named Goombeldt, a fair amount of my visual art, and a variety of percussions and other instruments for when I feel less than literary, including my favorite toy, a Roland Handonic (a finger drumming pad). Two windows, one in front of me and one to the left, create an intriguing duality. A dozen or so books all around me create an intriguing multiplicity. In my old house I had painted the walls multiple bright colors, but in this room I am going with a different, slightly low-key aesthetic. This type of eclectic setup is what I’ve come to like to writing, although it’s hard to say whether it affects my work per se.”
-Anatoly Molotkov, poet and visual artist
What about my space? It’s a small corner of the living room. I’m amazed I can get anything done from where it is situated. My laptop sits on top of a narrow folding banquet table. Beyond that, piles of books (usually), papers and random cords abound, though neatly. It is cramped and cluttered. There is just enough space to pass between end table/couch and banquet table. That end table is stacked with books too. On the wall-pictures that catch my eye, those that are inspiring, poems by other people, my first acceptance letter from a major magazine. Covers of magazines: Poets & Writers-the one with Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses, a New Yorker done by Ana Juan. Pictures my daughter has painted or drawn. There’s one in particular I love-done in October 2010-a forest of trees, bursting with the colors of a New England fall.
I love the idea of writing quotes and lines on the wall! I’d probably do it if I weren’t renting. From my desk chair, I can look out of a huge bay window and see the ridge of the Green Mountains. I always have music going. Most days it’s stuff like Stevie Wonder, the Black Keys, Led Zeppelin, old Motown. Other times some version of Jack White or Reggae. Some people need quiet to write. When it comes down to it, I like the chaos of everyday life, observation.
My space has not always been so stationary. Before, it was always wherever I sat with a pen and notebook: downtown bench, the bar, in the car, even just sitting out on the porch. Years ago, I did have an entire room all to myself with desk, shelves and my old Smith-Corona typewriter. I still have it and use it occasionally-the typewriter, that is.
Kris Underwood is mostly a poet, but has tried her hand at other genres. She currently handles Social Media for Hunger Mountain, the VCFA journal of the arts. You can find out more at her blog, Writing In the Mountains.