What would you like to share with our readers about the work you contributed to the Bellingham Review?
I am often drawn to write a poem because of a line, rather than an image. The image comes later. I am almost always more concerned with sound and tempo; the pleasure of hearing one word against another and the re-contextualized meanings that occur after the pause in a line break have always taken precedence over scene or subject. I keep a running Notes section open during my commute from Cobble Hill to the Financial District, from FiDi to Gramercy Park, from Gramercy to Columbus Circle and finally, back home, and the lines that spurred the eventual piece were: “you keep to yourself or keep avoiding some people” and “some people like the way it feels …” which I knew could mean so much more if I broke the lines between the two thoughts and also conflated them, metamorphosing one sensation and one subject into another. The rest was given to me by the rain-slicked cobble-stone streets of DUMBO, walking from the F train toward Cobble Hill again under the shadow and the clamor of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.
Tell us about your writing life.
I think I keep going back to the function and role of the voyeur; our many ways of looking but also the desire to move from spectator to actor, which I think has finally happened in the last few years because of technology’s role in how we see ourselves, and others.
Which non-writing aspect(s) of your life most influences your writing?
Music—what I am listening to at this very moment—so often dictates my work.
What writing advice has stayed with you?
To read as often as I can, and to read everything (literature, poetry, memoir, pop culture, essay, genre, high/low, etc.), which, I think, sort of creates and establishes your own voice, your own style and aesthetic concerns. Sometimes—as was certainly the case with me—you understand more about the creative project you’ve been working with because of a theoretical perspective you gleaned in a book of criticism, and vice versa.
What is your favorite book (essay, poem, short story)? Who is your favorite writer?
The Wild Boys by William S. Burroughs—before I read this book, I didn’t know that I could write. Reading WSB gave me hope and freedom, and the confidence to build a world and dismantle it, too.
What are you reading right now?
The Mausoleum of Lovers by Hervé Guibert and Ways of Seeing by John Berger
What project are you working on now?
I’m working on a collection of hybrid prose, poetry, and essay for a two-volume follow-up to my recently published Death of Art (C&R Press) titled The Internet is for Real.
Anything else our readers might want to know about you?
I designed and teach a course on identity, image, and intimacy in the age of Internet and celebrity at Baruch College that eventually produced my first TEDx Talk, given last May, called “Living In Between”:
Where can our readers connect with you online?
www.chriscampanioni.com and on Twitter @chriscampanioni
CHRIS CAMPANIONI’s new book is Death of Art (C&R Press). His recent work appears in Ambit, RHINO, Public Pool, and The Brooklyn Rail. His “Billboards” poem responding to Latino stereotypes and mutable—and often muted—identity in the fashion world was awarded an Academy of American Poets Prize and his novel Going Down was selected as Best First Book at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards. He edits PANK and Tupelo Quarterly and lives in Brooklyn.