Tuesday 8 June 2021

Ruth Stacey, "The Dark Room: Letters to Krista"


Ruth Stacey is a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Worcester, England. Her first poetry collection Queen, Jewel, Mistress was published by Eyewear Publishing, 2015, and her second full collection, I, Ursula, was published in January 2020 by V. Press Poetry. Her pamphlets include Inheritance, published by Mothers Milk Books in 2017. A duet with another poet, Katy Wareham Morris, the collection explores 19th century experience of motherhood, contrasted with a 21st century mother's voice. Inheritance won Best Collaborative Work at the 2018 Saboteur Awards. Three books have been published with the Knives, Forks and Spoons Press. A poetic memoir, How to Wear Grunge, was published in 2018. An experimental pamphlet, Viola the Virgin Queen, illustrated by Desdemona McCannon, was published in 2020, and Ruth's latest work, The Dark Room: Letters to Krista, a collaboration with Krista Kay, was published in 2021. Stacey is currently writing an imagined memoir in poetry of the tarot artist Pamela Colman Smith, as part of her PhD study. 

Ruth's website is here. You can read more about her collection I, Ursula on Creative Writing at Leicester here.

About The Dark Room: Letters to Krista

By Ruth Stacey

I contacted Krista (a Portland, USA, based photographer, who photographed some of the people from the 90s Seattle scene) about using a photograph of her friend Demri Parrott for the cover of my poetry memoir, How to Wear Grunge, but due to a message being missed that didn't happen and I commissioned a painted portrait of Demri instead. Following the publication of the HTWG book, Krista saw the message and contacted me in early summer of 2020, during the pandemic. What followed was a correspondence that revealed many common interests and enabled conversations around the themes of loss, nostalgia for youth, memory, vibrant life and tragic death, preserving memories, whilst sharing our photography and poetry. Those conversations become prose poem letters in The Dark Room, which Krista answered with her enigmatic and compelling photographs. I really enjoy working collaboratively with a visual artist. Creating a sequence with text and image to tell a narrative allows different pathways through the stories that are told. Being able to meet another artist and create a new artefact, and a friendship, was an uplifting experience during a difficult year of lockdown, and these poems reflect the light that is found through art and friendship.

By Krista Kay

This book, The Dark Room, is a collaboration between Ruth Stacey, a sensitive, lovely, deeply talented writer, and myself. We have built a friendship and exchanged letters over the past year or so and many topics we have discussed revolve around memory, nostalgia, regret, love, loss. Ruth has written about Demri before (How to Wear Grunge) and I was struck by her profound ability to think deeply and encapsulate with words the importance of understanding complicated lives. Demri has often come up in our conversations. Demri inspired everyone she touched and made the people around her feel beautiful. I have wanted to share her in a way that honored her bright energy and this book is one way to begin to do that. Ruth and I honor others in our lives that we have lost and together we seek to make sense of their absence and our lives forever changed. https://www.instagram.com/kristakayphoto/

Below, you can read an excerpt from The Dark Room.

From The Dark Room: Letters to Krista

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