Black Lawrence Press
April 17, 2012

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Michele Battiste

American Proverb: when a woman reigns, the devil governs.

The hail fell and no one would suggest it landed
randomly.  The father called the insurance man
out to look at the roof.  The cursed know.  Those who don’t

know cackle and fix chips in the paint.  His wife
likes mutton and the butcher looks at him strangely.
I’ll have to special order it.  She liked the red

clay shingles and the insurance man winced without
knowing why.  The small child played in the yard with
broken shards.  No one was worried, and when she cut

her hand the father thought it was bound to happen.
The mother bandaged the hand and kissed her daughter’s
wet cheeks.  No one has seen hail like that in these parts

for threescore and ten.

Q: What is your writing process?

A: These days I write while doing the dishes, dozing next to my going-to-sleep child, riding my bike to work.  Sometimes I’ll bring my notebook to a cafe.  It’s catch-as-catch-can, a phrase that always reminded me of Saskatchewan.  That’s just my life right now.  It’s possible that next month or next year I’ll have more time.  Or more discipline.

Q: Is there an exciting poet (emerging or established) whose work you just discovered this year?

A: Jennifer Denrow’s California delights me.  I’m a sucker for a poem series, but some run out of steam or unravel.  There’s unraveling in Denrow’s book, but the best kind.  The kind that shows you how foolish you are to expect anything different.  I want to use cornball words to describe this series.  Poignant.  Heart-breaking.  Eleni Sikelianos used a much better word in her blurb – “ipseity.”  I had to look it up.

Q: If you could go on a one-week writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you travel?

A: Woods, not ocean.  Warm and a pleasant environment, but not so pleasant that I’d be lured from my desk.  New but familiar for the same reason.  Maybe Saskatchewan.

Michele Battiste is the author of Ink for an Odd Cartography and Uprising (forthcoming, 2013), both from Black Lawrence Press.  You can read her recent poems in American Poetry Review and at SpringGunThe Awl, and Redheaded Stepchild.  For National Poetry Month, she’ll be blogging daily about why the commons matter to poetry at Poetry in the 11111011010.

Photo credit: Tom Sundro Lewis

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