During July and August, Minneapolis-based hybrid writer Kathryn Savage will take part in a month-long residency at the Gullkistan, Center for Creativity in Laugarvatn, Iceland.
In Iceland, she’ll make new work that blends disparate threads—the body, volcanoes, disease, family, and myth and will be working in a feminist autotheory tradition. This will be her first project with a site-specific and autobiographical focus. A prose writer newly writing poetry, she is fascinated by what the first-person female voice invites from readers in the space of poems as image, tension, and self to respond to and interpret.
Based at Gullkistan, she will also visit the National and University Library of Iceland, researching Baltic-region mythology and exploring Iceland’s rich geothermal and cultural centers—spending time at the Krafla Power Station, The Volcano House, The Lava Centre, The Nordic House, Hekla Centre, Leirubakki, and at the Library of Water, Roni Horn’s west Iceland exhibit on Iceland’s geography, geology, and climate. She will interview Páll Einarsson, who currently works at the Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland, and whose research focus is volcanology, tectonism, and earthquake seismology.
“Part of my ancestry is Latvian and Lithuanian, and facets of my project are autobiographical. Specifically, I’m interested in learning more about Baltic-region myths about gender dynamics, gender violence, and motherhood. I’ve never been to the Baltic region or studied volcanoes or such myths in earnest, but much of my current writing is concerned with the body as an unstable environment. I don’t seek to make metaphor of volcanoes, to anthropomorphize them; rather, I want to learn more about them to add layer and surprise to recent work concerned with my own relationship with motherhood and my father’s recent battle with stomach cancer. The body as a location of ethical intensities, secrets, diseases, violences, vulnerabilities, and conflicting motivations and desires is a thread running through my work. The body under threat in a geopolitical context is something I’m thinking about too, about racism in America (and elsewhere) and gender violence, about the environment and climate change. How do humans actively destabilize the world? The ways people are violent with, and toward, one another—these are questions I’m asking.”
New work from the residency will be presented in Minneapolis during a spring 2019 event. Stay tuned for dispatches from Kathryn’s time at Gullkistan and in Iceland.
Kathryn Savage is a recipient of the 2018 Academy of American Poets James Wright Prize. A hybrid writer, her work appears or is forthcoming in American Short Fiction, poets.org, the Guardian, Poets & Writers, Ploughshares, the Village Voice, Star Tribune, and The Best Small Fictions of 2015. She currently teaches writing at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), and at the University of Minnesota, where she is pursuing a second MFA, in poetry. Her work has been supported by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, Minnesota State Arts Board, Millay Colony for the Arts, Ucross Foundation, Weisman Art Museum, O’Rourke Travel Fellowship, and Graduate Research Partnership Program Fellowship from the University of Minnesota. Learn more at kathrynsavage.com.