July 25th, 2020

Interview by Victoria Campa · Artwork by Tina Tona

Isabella Preisz poems recall sun-soaked summers, hooked on a small moment of light dispersing through a lemon tree during golden hour. She points to journaling as an important part of her creative process and prefers to write in the bathtub, where we photographed her over Zoom. Isabella’s work, through both words and images, deals with ideas of identity, self-expression, body positivity, and sexuality. She just published her second poetry collection, "hours inside out", and tells us about using quarantine to re-connect with herself.


How are you staying creative? 

To be honest, staying creative has been quite difficult for me during this time. I finished writing my second poetry collection — "hours inside out" — while in quarantine. The completion of this project caused me to take a much needed pause to look closer at my patterns instead of hiding inside of them. I would say this time has been more about healing than productivity for me. I have been taking a much needed break from capitalism and the pressure to constantly be in “output” mode. 


What revelations or realizations have you had about yourself or your life during this time? 

I have realized that I have used poetry to run away from facing the reality of my feelings. The actual depth and weight of what it means to process and feel trauma. I would rather create rhyme, structure, and a narrative out of my pain than actually experience it. Writing is therapeutic, yes. But there is a huge difference between writing for publication and writing to process the underworld of emotions and experiences. And even going beyond writing, just learning to talk about my story without trying to make it poetic, digestible, or profitable. Isolation has served as a much needed reset. 


Tell us about art (books, movies, music, etc.) that you have discovered or revisited during this time. 

The last film I watched was "Inherent Vice". The last book I read was "Outline" by Rachel Cusk. And now I am reading the second in the trilogy, "Transit". 


Is there a particular favorite piece of work you like to reference during difficult moments, such as this one?

I would say that I am more prone to searching for new art as I am experiencing each moment. But I do always refer back to the album "In Rainbows" by Radiohead. 


What are some silver linings that you've encountered during this time?

Last Sunday, I went to the park with my boyfriend. We sat at a safe distance from others and watched how everyone was spending their day. We saw a small boy sitting on top of his mother while she rested, a family out with their new puppy, two lovers sipping wine and basking in the sun. It felt like I was in Copenhagen in the middle of the summer. As nice as the weather is in Los Angeles, I think it’s rare to see as many people as we did, enjoying the outdoors on a Sunday. I think this time has had a way of reminding people of their often ignored simple pleasures — going on a walk, playing a card game, sitting in the grass with no intention of finishing, learning, or fixing something. Just enjoying the moment of being together. 


What routines have kept you grounded?

Going outside for at least one hour a day. Doing yoga. Drinking a lot of water. And meditating (with a face mask on). 


What changes do you hope are in store for the post-quarantine world?

I think this time has really shown us how much we need each other — physically, mentally, and emotionally. I hope that in some way this time will teach us to be more present with one another. To put our phones down and really have a conversation, an uncomfortable conversation, a conversation with the goal of truly listening to one another. 


What has been inspiring you lately?

Watching films instead of TV. I would say I have been most inspired by the movie "Do The Right Thing", directed by Spike Lee. 

This interview is part of a series of conversations with artists discussing their experiences during quarantine. 

Victoria Campa grew up in Madrid, Spain, and has traveled around the world with her camera. She mostly lenses women in quiet moments within their environments, and she is interested in exploring the passage of time, strength in vulnerability, and inner lives through stories. She writes a bi-weekly newsletter about art, film, and writing called things to look at. You can explore her work at 

Tina Tona is a 19-year-old multi-medium Rwandese/Ugandan artist from the DMV. They specialize in film photography and collage art, and use their work to highlight the nuances of Blackness and femininity. They are deeply inspired by black artists such as Solange and Andre 3000, and hope one day their work can be used as a tool to engage with Afro-futurism the way theirs is.