An Interview with Kimmy Beach
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kimmy Beach, a Canadian writer known for her works in poetry. She received her First-Class Honours Degree in English from the University of Alberta, and also works as an editor, offering degrees of support to new or established writers. Kimmy has published six books across the genres of fiction and poetry. Looking through the list of authors I had the opportunity to interview, I chose Kimmy Beach because I myself have an interest in poetry, both writing and reading it. Being presented with this incredible opportunity I was able to ask Kimmy anything about her career and ideas as a writer, below I have summarized the three questions I was most curious about.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell her that there is no such thing as writers’ block. You’ll never hear a plumber say, “I could unclog your toilet, but I’m just not feeling it. I have plumbers’ block.” What makes us so special that we think we get to be “blocked” when the rest of the word just gets back to work? I would tell my younger self that if writing isn’t fun for a while, leave it and go do something else she loves until it’s fun again. I would remind her that she needs to find a way to fit her art into her life, and not the other way around. That doesn’t mean that art is secondary or comes last. It means striking a balance between the day-to-day and the art we want to produce. Art is part of the crazy and beautiful balance we all must strike.
When you finish writing a book do you find that it stands alone or are their linking similarities between your other texts?
One of my colleagues calls my books of poetry “crystallized novels.” I’ve always loved that phrase. What he means is that they each contain a recognizable narrative arc, growing and developing characters, and some kind of resolution, for good or ill. I would say that what links my books is an overriding theme of pop culture. I write pop culture almost exclusively to one degree or another. I will read nature, religious, or eco-poetry, but I have absolutely no interest in writing it. Until my novel, Nuala: A Fable, I would venture a guess that anyone familiar with my work could likely pick out a Kimmy Beach book based on its subject matter: pop culture and human and cultural response to it.
Is your writing inspired by any cultures?
When I was writing, The Last Temptation of Bond, my South African/Namibian editor was concerned that I’d been regionalized, that I was trapped inside a western Canadian readership. I’ve always been well-read, but this man dumped South African literature into my arms and explained that because I was playing with the idea of James Bond, I was also playing with the ideas of modernist literature, art nouveau, and the European literary and cultural traditions of the 1940s and 50s, when Bond came to be in book form.
He helped me see the connections between South African writers of the time, and the larger global context in which they were working, as most of them could only fully express themselves in exile in Europe during Apartheid. I started to see patterns in the writing of South African artists, when one could be incarcerated, or killed for what one wrote. They found a way of saying what they needed to say without saying it directly. This way of writing taught me about how to show my stories rather than telling my reader what was happening. A fantastic side effect of this immersion into the work of South African authors is that I found I had a passion for it. Now, about six years after I began, I’ve read approximately 150 books from the country, and that immersion cannot help but influence my future writing.
Through interacting with Kimmy and reading her responses, I can tell how passionate she is about her craft. This is something I admire as a student who is still figuring out exactly what I am supposed to do. It seems entirely possible to create a career and a life out of doing the things you love to do, as long as you are passionate about it.