August 16, 2017

Spotlight: Kimmy Walters

Kimmy Walters speaks honestly, yielding poetry that creates 
an aura of simultaneous humor and melancholy.

Kimmy Walters is a poet and sometimes I think she has read my mind. What I mean is, she speaks with a level of honesty that never occurred to me was allowed to have anywhere outside my head. I read her first book, Uptalk, and thought, “Oh! Poetry can be like this and be better than anything else I’ve read.” Trying to describe poetry always feels a little like being a vulture circling prey. One poem in Walter’s second collection, Killer, is called “Anecdotal Evidence that Tickling Me Will Make Your House Burn Down” and it reads:

one time a boy tickled me and then

his house burned down

The image of clear cut flames snaking their way up some vague building-like shape. The contortion of a body in defense. The short burst of not-quite-sadness that comes with speaking of someone in past tense. On the back of Uptalk, Sara Woods says Kimmy Walter’s poems are “transcribed whale songs.” It’s true. It’s like she sees the truth that’s just far enough below the surface that us average people would miss, but as soon as it’s pointed out to us it seems so obvious. All I can do as a reader is feel thankful that I get to see the world through a new, seemingly better set of eyes for a moment. I got to talk to Kimmy Walters about her books and writing in general.

The Le Sigh: In Killer, a few of the poems touch on moving from St. Louis to San Diego. Do you feel like your move has had any sort of effect on your writing?

Kimmy Walters:
This move has been on my mind for years, so it’s definitely affected my writing. I primarily wrote Killer in St. Louis and edited it after I moved to San Diego in August. San Diego was attractive because my long-term partner lives here, but also because, for me, it doesn’t have a lifetime of depression and anxiety associated with it. My mood is also profoundly affected by the weather, and it’s always nice here. A few months ago it hailed for ten seconds and everyone was like, “my god, ten entire seconds???”

My entire family is in St. Louis, though, and I miss them. My nephew is very small and I want to be there to see him learn how to eat beans.


TLS: Both Uptalk and Killer are both poetry collections. Do you write exclusively poetry?

KW: I mostly write poetry but I’m trying to figure out how to write other things. I like telling stories but I am less sure of myself in fiction. I’m interested in TV writing but I don’t know the first thing about it. I just bought one of those books that’s like “Screenwriting For If You Are a Bad Moron.” I’m sitting here thinking about it and basically I want someone to give me a script and let me make it funnier. Maybe I want to be Carrie Fisher. Mostly I want to take ten thousand naps.

TLS: When did you know you wanted to pursue writing?

Am I pursuing writing? Everything that’s happened so far has mostly happened by accident. If anything I’m pursuing accidents. It’s been very nice so far.

TLS: In poems like “What Am I Forgetting,” you use humor to great effect. Was it always natural for you to merge humor and poetry?

I naturally gravitate towards humor because I’m sad. My brain does a little dance for me and I forget I’m sad for a bit. If you dance a lot, you become a dancer. Eventually, you can participate in one of those horrifying dance marathons where people faint and, presumably, pee themselves from exhaustion.

What Am I Forgetting?

TLS: This is your second book with Bottlecap Press. How did you originally get involved with them?

I saw a post about them on the internet, and they were located near St. Louis. I emailed them and we turned out to be a good fit. They give me a lot of editorial control and they pay me. Major shoutout to getting paid! Very nice.

TLS: What’s the story behind your username, @arealliveghost?

I honestly don’t completely remember, but it had something to do with celebrities often having the word “real” in their handles, I guess to distinguish themselves from fake celebrities. I also, at the time, wanted to be anonymous.

TLS: Are there any books, movies, TV shows, etc. that you are looking forward to this year?

I feel like there’s been an explosion of things I like within the last few years. I don’t know if that’s because stuff is better or because I feel better or both. Here are some people creating things that I am excited about, in no particular order: Sarah Jean Alexander, Demi Adejuyigbe, Patricia Lockwood, merritt k, Mitski, Beyza Ozer, Jenny Zhang, Ryan North, Leyawn, EVIL MTN, Oshwa, Sam Alden, Hera Lindsay Bird...there are more but I’m going to stop here because I feel that this is roughly the number of names people can read without tuning out.

How To Get There From Here

You can buy Uptalk and Killer from Bottlecap Press, and see more of Kimmy's work on tumblr and Twitter.


Chloe Arnold, a student and writer from California. She tweets @3_2_1_nothanks.