National Poetry Month: Katharine Rauk
Little Dream Gumball Machine
Chester collects quarters in an old cigar box. Its lid has a picture of a mermaid perched on a rock. Waves break like wineglasses all around her, and the color of her tail is the color of his mother’s eyes when she listens to too much Liszt after dinner. Neither matches the color of the coin that Chester keeps hidden beneath his tongue. Even the sea places bets on infinity.
A: I don’t have a particular process. Often I like to reread the work of old favorites in hopes that I’ll pick up some inspiration, maybe riffing off a line that catches my ear. Sometimes I’ll write in response to something I see or overhear. And occasionally, I’m lucky enough to have a line or two suddenly appear seemingly out of nowhere. I’m not persnickety; I’ll take a poem however I can get it.
Q: Is there an exciting poet (emerging or established) whose work you just discovered this year?
A: I’ve spent a lot of time reading the Argentine writer Julio Cortázar. He writes fantastical, cryptic prose poems—in which the leg of a spider might get mailed to the Minister or Foreign Affairs or a bear that lives in your hot water pipes might come out at night to lick your nose—as well as sweet love poems saturated with longing, hands, and frogs.
Q: If you could go on a one-week writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you travel?
A: Somewhere with a lake. And loons.
Katharine Rauk earned a MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Bennington College, and her chapbook, Basil, was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2011. Her work appears in Harvard Review, Georgetown Review, Cream City Review, Zone 3, and others, and she is an assistant editor of Rowboat: Poetry in Translation. Rauk lives in Minneapolis where she teaches writing at North Hennepin Community College.