Meet Clare McCallan
Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Clare McCallan and I’m a Spoken Word Artist living in Brooklyn! I’m pretty much always writing, practicing, performing, or recording...but when I’m not, you can find me running, reading, or playing dress up at my favorite vintage stores!
Tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now? How does it influence your writing?
I grew up outside of Boston. But I also consider Steubenville, Ohio (my college town), a second hometown. Steubenville was an incredibly formative place for me and that little patch of faith and concrete will always have more than it’s fair share of my heart.
After college, I moved around a bunch: Orlando, LA, Calcutta, and now Brooklyn. Each place has uniquely seasoned the way I see the world, my writing, and myself.
More than anywhere else though, my time visiting my extended family in Ireland has influenced my word choice and rhythm. They use language differently than we do. They’re incredibly quick witted, so they speak almost recklessly, often talking before thinking. However, their phrasing and accents also benefit from a certain song-songy quality. So I try to emulate their impulsive musicality.
How did you get started writing?
I started writing during my senior year of college. My best friend Miriam and I created a travel start-up from our dorm room called “Truancy Travel”. We helped college students travel on a budget.
A huge part of the business was dependent on social media engagement, so I’d write and publish blogs about all of the places we visited and people we met.
But my writing is actually the least interesting part of the “Truancy Travel” saga. The interesting part, is that we would sit around our dilapidated apartment, washing down stale Halloween candy with PBR’s, while we followed Fraternity boys by the hundreds and thousands on Instagram - that’s how we each amassed our Instagram followings.
The boys of Kappa or Sigma would follow us back, assuming we had met at a party the weekend before. We would explain that no, we hadn’t actually met before, but we would like to help them find affordable flights and accommodations for their upcoming spring break. To this day, three whole years later, a couple hundred of them still follow me. A lot of them even reach out about my poetry. So I’m very grateful to the frat boys! Go Kappa!!!!
What does your writing routine look like?
I feel new written and spoken word pieces brewing inside me like little storms. For a day or so before I sit down to write, a phrase or topic will begin to swirl in mind until it reaches full hurricane potential. And then I write it all down to release the pressure.
Something a little bizarre about my writing process is that I exclusively write on my phone. Typing with my thumbs is the fastest way I can put thought to paper. So if you ever see me tapping away furiously, I promise it’s more than an impassioned text message!
What are some things you do to get yourself in creative thinking mode?
I engage with strangers when I need some new inspiration. People are the pinnacle of God’s Creation, and Creation begets creativity!
Which authors inspire you and your writing? What about them particularly moves you?
G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis indulge in romantic phrasing and storylines without ever abandoning reason or virtue. That’s what makes them my favorite authors. Also, I think that Shauna Niequist understands and communicates the endearing messiness of Christian womanhood better than just about anyone else I’ve read. As a little bonus, I have to add that I’m always touched by the songwriting abilities of Lauren Daigle, Tori Kelly, and Anais Mitchell (the songwriter behind Hadestown).
What was the inspiration for the piece included in our issue?
“Butterfly Kisses”, from the Fall issue, is a true story! I externally process through writing, so the creation of “Butterfly Kisses” was deeply healing and important to me not only as a writer but as a woman.
Basically, the story explains how I didn’t give away my first kiss until I was 24. It then goes on to explore the relationship with that little kiss I had been carrying around for so long, the grieving process of letting her go, and all my sweet encounters with her descendants.
Clare is touring around the states this year, performing a spoken word show called “Leper Lover”, and she’s still accepting bookings! Please reach out to her if you’d like to discuss bringing her to your Church, writer’s club, or University for a show or a poetry slam!