Kimberly Campanello is an extraordinary poet. Her long sequence MOTHERBABYHOME is a fragmentary piece bringing small memories of abandoned people to our ears in simple language that is overwhelming. I heard her recite some of this last year at the Of Mouth event in Belfast and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It is a confrontation, a lamentation, a powerful objection and a revolution.
— Pádraig Ó Tuama

The 796 poems are printed on transparent vellum and held in a handmade oak box. MOTHERBABYHOME is also published as a reader’s edition book. Both are available from zimZalla Avant Objects.

The poetry-object is held by the National Poetry Library (UK), University College Dublin Special Collections, Cardiff University Special Collections, and the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds.

Kimberly has written about Tuam and poetic language for The Irish Times.

MOTHERBABYHOME demonstrates not only the enduring power of visual poetics but also the ways in which finely crafted language, informed by a highly self-conscious spatiality, speak to some of the most disturbing aspects of our time and, crucially, speaks for the silenced and the marginalised among us.
— Dr Fiona Becket, Professor of Contemporary Poetics (University of Leeds)
Reader’s Edition Book

Reader’s Edition Book

The St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home was run by the Bon Secours Sisters on behalf of the Irish State to house unmarried mothers and their children. The location of the graves of 796 infants and children who died in the Home between between 1926 and 1961 is unknown, though local knowledge, the research of local historian Catherine Corless, and recent excavations point to a field near the old site of the Home, as well as the likelihood that some children were illegally adopted. International media attention in 2014 led to the Irish government’s Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, which is still underway.

MOTHERBABYHOME is a 796-page ‘report’ comprised of conceptual and visual poetry. An excavation of voices, the poems are composed entirely of text taken from historical archives and contemporary sources related to the Home, including files given to Kimberly by Catherine Corless. 

Poems from MOTHERBABYHOME have appeared in Banshee, Blackbox Manifold, gorse, para·text, Paris Lit Up, Poetry Ireland, Poetry Wales, thosethatthis, and in Laudanum’s Chapbook Anthology Volume Two. They were filmed for University College Dublin’s Poetry Reading Archive.

Kimberly has performed poems from MOTHERBABYHOME for the Prague Microfestival, New Dublin Press’s Performing Poetry Project, Belfast’s Of Mouth Reading Series, Doolin Writers’ Weekend, the University of Sheffield’s Centre for Poetry and Poetics, the International Literature Festival Dublin, The Other Room (Manchester), York Irish Association, and the Irish Literary Society (London).

It has been exhibited as part of Radical Landscapes: Innovation in Landscape and Language Art at the Plough Arts Centre (Devon), Poetry by Design (Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds), and the Festival de Libro de Artista: "Proposiciones a realizar" (la Galería Casa Uno, Campus Creativo de la Universidad Andrés Bello, Chile).

Kimberly gave a 3-hour durational performance of the entirety of motherbabyhome at oonagh young gallery in Dublin in April 2019.

[this] is a memorial to those buried in an unmarked grave at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. It’s also a hard-eyed exhumation of what goes unrecorded: the unmentioned, the redacted and the written over. The poems deal in half-reveals and homophonics, in double-meanings and silences: they let things slip. They are fine-tuned disclosures, and brutally sharp.
— Abigail Parry

recent & upcoming dates

April 6, 2019, 6-8 pm The Plough Arts Centre Gallery, 9-11 Fore St Torrington EX38 8HQ, reading from selections from MOTHERBABYHOME for Radical Landscapes: Innovation in Landscape and Language Art curator’s talk and event

April 24, 2019, 5-8 pm Oonagh Young Gallery, 1 James Joyce Street, Dublin 1, durational performance of the entirety of MOTHERBABYHOME *with support from the Centre for Practice-led Research in the Arts

April 25, 2019, 3-5 pm Newman Library, University College Dublin, pop-up readings from MOTHERBABYHOME for Text/Sound/Performance: Making in Canadian Space and Associated Writing Programs Ireland conferences

May 16, 2019, Cardiff Poetry Experiment (with Rowan Evans and Charlotte Geater), Waterloo Tea in the Wyndham Arcade

June 24, 2019, Ó Bhéal poetry series, The Long Valley, Winthrop St, Cork

July 18, 2019, ‘Poetry by Design’ Symposium, University of Leeds Workshop Theatre

October 9, 2019, University of Sheffield Centre for Poetry and Poetics

October 19, 2019, Ilkley Literature Festival, performance followed by conversation with Professor Fiona Becket

More dates TBA

It establishes a sense of haunting both in content and form, beginning with a ‘so-called playground’ in which those same words are overlaid to create a palimpsestic blur, in what seems to articulate a sense of words being said over and over again – an attempt through repetition to exorcise grief, or a sense of media representation harking on elements that can’t be simply absorbed [...] I’m looking forward to finding and reading more of this piece, and of Campanello’s work in general.
— Jon Catherall, Tentacular Magazine