Get to know Shannon Webb-Campbell

What’s next on your reading list?
I just took out all of Don McKay’s work from the Saint John Public Library. He is a poet that helps ground my mind when I feel awry. I am also reading a beautiful and collaborative collection of poetry Hope Matters by Lee Maracle, Columpa Bob and Tania Carter, and Alicia Elliott’s powerful essays, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground.

What do you have the most fun with as a writer?
The moment when the idea sparks, and I feel the rush to create.

Do you write with music in the background, or in silence? 
I used to always write with music – The National, old jazz, some classical, Billie Holiday, Hayden, Paper Beat Scissors, Beck, etc. Then I started to value the silence, or as I am now, sitting on the back porch listening to the birds and port city sounds.

Does anyone keep you company while you write?
Sometimes I write on trains, planes or in cars, but mostly, I am alone with me, myself and a blank page or screen now with the ocean nearby.

What book did you read as a child that you remember fondly?
I absolutely adored Phoebe Gilman’s books, Something From Nothing, The Balloon Tree, and Jillian Jiggs. I love her penchant for whimsy and curiosity.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
It’s alright if you fail. It’s okay to write terrible poems. Don’t be so ashamed. The work is deeper than you think. Keep going.

Do you have any rituals to prepare yourself to sit down and write?
I try and remember to breathe. I drink lots of water. I remind myself I am just a human being with a beating heart trying to get something out of me.

Do you believe in writer’s block? What do you do if you get stuck?
I don’t believe in writer’s block, necessarily. I think there are times when I just don’t want to write so I won’t. I think writers need to time to gather, collect and refill the well so to speak. When I am stuck I do something else. I swim. I walk. I cry. I go to yoga. I cook. Then once I’ve wandered enough, I sit down and try again.

What sparked the idea for I Am a Body of Land?
I Am a Body of Land is perhaps a book within a book. I revisited the text of an earlier work Who Took My Sister?, with editor and Elder Lee Maracle, who also wrote the introduction. I Am a Body of Land is an attempt to explore a relationship to poetic responsibility and accountability, and frame poetry as a form of re-visioning.

Shannon Webb-Campbell  is the author of I Am a Body of Land, and will be appearing at Festival Sunday on Sunday September 8, 2019.