Practice: From the Studio of Writing Professor Samantha Hunt
From the pages of Prattfolio, this article is part of a series exploring the artistic and professional practice of Pratt faculty through visits to their studios and workspaces. Here, Prattfolio looks inside the studio of writer Samantha Hunt, Professor of Humanities and Media Studies, in Tivoli, New York.
Samantha Hunt’s design for her writing studio, a concept some 20 years in the making, came to fruition outside her upstate New York home last spring. “I saw the writing studio as two separate rooms, knowing the chaos of my big family would spill into the space”—Hunt and her husband have three daughters—“but still wanting the classic ‘room of one’s own.’”
1. Hunt, whose latest book is the short story collection The Dark Dark (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017) writes her early drafts longhand. A Kaweco fountain pen, a gift from her family, is a new addition to her instruments, along with the paper-cover notebooks. “I’ve gotten more casual about my notebooks. As long as I can slip it in my purse, it works.” (She also writes on the train to and from Pratt.)
2. A bone folder speaks to another of Hunt’s practices: bookmaking. “When I started teaching at Pratt, I taught a bookmaking class at night, after working my day job at the Village Voice doing graphic design.” More recently, she bound the original manuscript of her novel Mr. Splitfoot, two books woven together, oriented in opposite directions chapter by chapter.
3. Hunt’s late father’s Royal typewriter is among the inherited objects in her studio. Her great- grandmother’s letters and a photograph of her home line the desk, and almost all the furniture in the room came from a late neighbor. “A lot of the objects here are ghost-y things. Part of my responsibility is keeping the archives of dead people.”
4. To site the studio, Hunt scouted her yard for a spot that was just out of Wi-Fi range. (Working on her last book, she would write in her car, parked by the nearby Hudson River, to avoid the distractions of the internet.) To create a further sense of retreat, she installed just two slender windows on the side of the studio that faces her home.
5. Hunt’s daughter set up the small desk to do impromptu origami, but it became a permanent writing station. An unexpected benefit of the double studio, Hunt sits in different spaces to work on different projects—three at the time of Prattfolio’s visit: a new novel, essays on the ways people are haunted, and an adaptation of Mr. Splitfoot for television.
This article was originally published in Prattfolio (Fall/Winter 2017). Read the issue at www.pratt.edu/alumni.