Kimmy Walters is an internet poet extraordinaire with a sense of wit as sharp as her words
The effect of the internet on contemporary poetry has been like the effect of a hyperbaric chamber on a patient with a wound that won’t heal: not so much a breath of fresh air as a steady blanketing of pure oxygen at three times the usual pressure. Kimmy Walters is one of the best young poets out there. She got a bunch of totally justified literary internet fame from the poems she constructed by retweeting twitter phenom @Horse_ebooks.
If you don’t already follow Walters on twitter and tumblr, you should, she rules. Kimmy Walters is a smart young person with a degree in linguistics who once saved a goat’s life and whose car recently drowned. Wouldn’t you want to read internet content produced by somebody like that? There are a bunch of other facts about her here. However, we have a new fact: she is now in print with an excellent new book of poetry. Bottlecap Press has just published her first collection, Uptalk and Dazed found her and asked her some questions.
A bunch of the poems reference being a king or wanting to be a king. What do kings mean to you?
Kimmy Walters: When I was a tween I inherited a king-size bed, and I slept in it until I moved away from home. As a point of reference, I was roughly 4'10" when I received this bed, and I am currently 5'2". It was ridiculous. It took up my entire room, so I would just sort of roll from my dresser to my bed to my nightstand when I needed things. So a lot of what "king" is to me is a nebulous size descriptor. It seems like that usage applies exclusively to mattresses and candy bars, which is great because those are two things I enjoy. I can't picture a single actual king, but I can picture the King of All Cosmos from Katamari Damacy in stunning detail. This is also what I picture when I picture God.
What space does linguistics take up in your brain now, and how do you think it interacts with your poetry? Does it help you win arguments?
Kimmy Walters: I don't think I ever win arguments. I mostly just get angry and start yelling about how I'm angry. It's difficult for me to maintain focus on an argument long enough to say "Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis," even though I really enjoy saying "Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis."
When I was registering for college, people kept telling me that getting an English degree was "not a viable career path," so I studied linguistics instead. I'm still not sure what a "viable career path" is. I've wanted to write for a long time, though, and one of the reasons I am thankful that I ended up studying linguistics is that it reinforced the idea that language is a mutable tool. There are people who act like the present day version of English like, appeared in gift wrap from on high and they'll defend it to the death by *whom-ing all over you. That is not an easy perspective to write poetry from, and it's one that gets destroyed pretty quickly through studying linguistics. I like to read poems by people who have clearly taken a lot of care to understand something outside of poetry, whether it's linguistics or biology or sci-fi movies.
What is your favourite colour?
Kimmy Walters: I really like pink and gold.
How come pink and gold are your favourite colours?
Kimmy Walters: I spent a lot of time hating pink because I wanted to be seen as tough and low-maintenance. I don't really care about being seen that way anymore, so I came back for pink and I'm making up for lost time. I like gold because it looks good in almost any context.
Who are some poets writing at the moment that you are into?
Kimmy Walters: Heather Christle, Sara Woods, Ana Carrete, Morgan Parker, Dorothea Lasky, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, Luna Miguel, and Jenny Zhang are some poets that I recommend.
Everybody loved your @Horse_ebooks RT poems. Did it change the way that you think about writing poetry?
Kimmy Walters: I initially thought of them less as poems and more as puzzles. Like, "can I force this weird robot to speak a natural sounding sentence?" (this was before it was revealed that there was, in fact, a human behind the account). I would just copy-paste until I could puzzle one out. I like to do things like that. If nothing else, I have a flair for complicated distractions.