Tag Archives: Ink for an Odd Cartography

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

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Michele Battiste

Accepting the Newborn

Bees are dying, eon-old tree
frog species appear to have
disappeared, coy leaflets hiding
only dew and droppings.  I root

for cutter ants, little bodies
like keys, locking up entire
Central American eco-

systems, their devotion to
compost carved into rainforest
floors, mapping the cycle of food
then life, then food.  What I wish for

you is complicated.  It’s a
guilty trade when the littlest
ones go first, go fast, and beckon.

Q: Where is your favorite place to write?

A: My favorite place to write is Flatiron Coffee, a little coffeehouse bookending a very unsexy strip mall in Boulder.  It’s next to a Great Clips and a shoe repair shop where they tried to charge me, no joke, $95 to repair a pair of sandals that cost $19.

Q: Do you remember the first poem you read that really blew your mind?

A: For my 14th birthday, my best friend gave me Langston Hughes’ Selected.  I remember reading Montage of a Dream Deferred over and over again and thought that I had discovered that language could be music.

Q: What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you in the
last 12 months?

A: Up until recently, my political and social activism consisted mainly of voting, on-line petitions, small monetary contributions, and arguing with my conservative parents.  In the last couple of months I have become a very active advocate for childcare at CU Boulder, and it amazes me the power one individual has to make changes in her community.  I’m hooked.

Michele Battiste’s first book, Ink for an Odd Cartography, was a finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award and was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2009.  Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming on Verse Daily and in Women’s Studies Quarterly, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Rattle.  She currently lives in Boulder, CO where she teaches and studies and wades in the creek.

Poets for Living Waters: A Response to the BP Oil Disaster

Both Michele Battiste, author of Ink for an Odd Cartography and James Reidel author of My Window Seat for Arlena Twigg have contributed poems to Poets for Living Waters.

Poets for Living Waters is a poetry action in response to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico begun on April 20, 2010, one of the most profound human-made ecological catastrophes in history.

The first law of ecology states that everything is connected to everything else. An appreciation of this systemic connectivity suggests a wide range of poetry will offer a meaningful response to the current crisis, including work that harkens back to Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing regional effects.

You can read all of the Gulf Coast Poems, including those penned by Black Lawrence Press authors, by visiting poetsgulfcoast.wordpress.com.

Ink for an Odd Cartography and My Window Seat for Arlena Twigg are both available from Black Lawrence Press.

Michele Battiste Wins PSV Prize

Michele Battiste’s poem “Acknowledgment” was awarded the 2010 Carlos Humberto Ibañez Arias Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of Virginia. Anna Journey was the judge. Michele’s first full-length collection of poems, Ink for an Odd Cartography, was a finalist for the St. Lawrence Book award and was released by Black Lawrence Press in 2009.

Ink for an Odd Cartography is available from the Black Lawrence Press website and Amazon.

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Michele Battiste


……..Activity involving height and motion
……..also involves risk.
…………….– gym mat caution sticker

And if we know the limits of our bodies and elemental physics?
There is still barometric pressure to contend with.
Undiagnosed allergies, interior wood-rot, diseased birds.
Man (A) sees Woman (B) across a crowded parking lot.
Early September weekday.  Central Kansas.
He’s late for work, lonely and regretting a skimpy, empty-calorie lunch.
She’s blonde and frowning, but her sandals are strappy,
complicated with buckles.
The elementary school up the block is overcrowded and the Parents Committee tore the jungle gym down overnight.  A liability.
The store bought new mini-carts, perfect for shoppers who live alone.
None, however, are available.
Seconds tick and A’s caloric load diminishes by one.  He thinks
of B’s difficulty with walking, her limited steps, calculations.
Sometimes he’s out of breath after sex.
No breeze and nothing rises but heat from the pavement.
A Lexus backs out of a spot.
A thinks, If it were Tuesday–”
thinks Depending on pace and angle of approach, we
could meet at the electric door.”
School lets out early for the lack of air-conditioning
and children are fearless, almost unbreakable.
Some are scraped, but quick.
The Lexus has a V8 engine and a driver who is thrilled
with acceleration.
B is halfway to the entrance, strides unpredictably deft.
A moves away from his car.

Q:  Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day you wrote the above poem?

A:  I was in Wichita, Kansas. It was a sweltering day, and the air was very still and heavy, which in Wichita, where wind constantly swept across the flat plains, was foreboding. It meant a storm was coming, and a summer storm in Wichita could include anything from cloud-to-ground lightning to straight-line winds to tornadoes. It was an afternoon itchy with impending excitement and danger.

Q:  What is the last book you’ve read that made you want to grab a pen and write?

A: Rachel Zucker’s Museum of Accidents. She makes me want to write about peril and infidelity. She both exemplifies and transforms the confessional.

Q: What is the most sublime meal you’ve ever eaten?

A: It’s an amalgam of every meal I’ve ever eaten at Jardiniere on Grove Street in San Francisco. When I lived there, my roommate was a manager at Jardineire, and each time we arrived he’d whip menus out of our hands and lay down a five-course meal that would take my breath away. The best damn cheese cellar on both sides of the Pecos.  And it didn’t hurt that he paired each course with a different wine.  Halcyon days.  I’m now married to a man who thinks a good meal consists of a vege dog and mild cheddar.

Michele Battiste’s poetry collection Ink for an Odd Cartography is available for purchase at Black Lawrence Press.

(Photo credit: Dan Wilcox)

Poems, Short Stories, and Revelry

Black Lawrence Press–and its fantastic stable of writers–invites you to read, drink, and be merry on Friday, April 9th at 7:30 PM. Join us at Lola for drinks as we toast the release of The Giving of Pears by Abayomi Animashaun. The Giving of Pears won the Hudson Prize in 2008. Readings by Hayden Saunier (Tips for Domestic Travel), Paul Kilgore  (Losing Camille), and Michele Battiste  (Ink for an Odd Cartography).

What: Book Release Party and Reading
Where: Lola, 1575 Boulder Street, Denver
When: Friday, April 9th
Time: 7:30 PM  – 11:30 PM
Also: Did we mention the free drinks?

Email diane@blacklawrencepress.com if you have a question about this event.

An Interview with Michele Battiste

banner2009Maps, leftover pasta pinwheels, lessons in stalking, and talking to rocks; The Southeast Review ran a great interview with Michele Battiste last month. Take a peek.

You can get your copy of Ink for an Odd Cartography from the Black Lawrence Press website or from Amazon.

Happy Reading!