Tag Archives: Katharine Rauk

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.

Q: What is your writing process?

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.

National Poetry Month Wrap-Up

As April draws to a close, we’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Black Lawrence Press authors who participated in our National Poetry Month feature:

David Rigsbee, “Pilot House
Marcela Sulak, “Pomelo With Fallen Angel
Shelley Puhak, “War
T.J. Beitelman, “The Inciting Incident
Laura McCullough, “The Ellisionist
Jason Tandon, “Work
Abayomi Animashaun, “A New Religion
Carol Guess, “Kicks
Joe Wilkins, “A Roadside Diner in Iowa
Lisa Fay Coutley, “In the Carnival of Breathing
Matthew Gavin Frank, “After Il Sergente Serbo e Sua Moglie
Michele Battiste, “Nobody Leaves
Katharine Rauk, “How Many Weeks are in a Day and How Many Years in a Month?
Brent Goodman, “Another Prayer
Stefi Weisburd, “Behind My Ear is a Little Palace in Broad Daylight
Larry Matsuda, “Arc de Triomphe, 2003 Invasion of Iraq
Sandra Kolankiewicz, “Winter Sonata
Frank Matagrano, “Waiting with Alexandria for Her Mom
Hayden Saunier, “Beach
Kevin Pilkington, “Milk
Michael Hemmingson, “Sedona
Erica Wright, “Reservoir
Keith Taylor, “At the Living Creche
James Reidel, “Ave Maria afarensis
Helen Marie Casey, “Mary Dyer’s Courtship
Brad Ricca, “Workshop
Daniele Pantano, “The Oldest Hands in the World
Julia Cohen, “Panic at My Wilderness
Rachel Galvin, “In Cambium Lucida

And most importantly, thank you to everyone who read, shared, and commented on these poems — you’ve made this event a big success!

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Katharine Rauk


……..from Pablo Neruda’s The Book of Questions

How many hours in a peach
that swallows light
like a woman with her secret
windows, each pain a glass
which opens onto orchards
sown with how many
bites of time?
How many minutes in the room
where rain is born
with her sudden bouquet of hands
which flattens furrows
hewn in foreheads
and presses how many
thumbprints in the grass?
How many seconds in a question
seeded in the dirt
as when the peach’s ribbed pit asks
shall I come?
and its tender flesh asks
shall I go?

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

A: Pablo Neruda’s The Book of Questions is a book literally full of questions—“If all rivers are sweet / where does the sea get its salt?” or “And what did the rubies say / standing before the juice of pomegranates?”—and I often like to interrogate Neruda’s original inquiries. As you might imagine, I usually don’t end up with satisfying answers but instead with a collection of even more questions. This particular poem is woven from my responses to Neruda’s question over the course of a few weeks, so I can’t say that it was written on one specific day.

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

A: I have just been reading (once again) Galway Kinnell’s The Book of Nightmares and reveling in his knobby language. He uses words you must forcibly chew, like “fenks,” “goaf,” gurry” and “smarled,” as well as kennings like “throat knuckles” and “mouth-glue.” Maybe because it’s spring in Minnesota and I’ve been mucking around in the backyard or because I’m about to give birth to a baby daughter in a few weeks, but it seems especially fitting to be reading a book so grounded in the bodily world. Kinnell uses words that are not stereotypically “poetic”; instead, they are corporeal and often steeped in decay. Yet Kinnell’s keen awareness of mortality is tempered by witnessing the arrival of his newborn children on earth.

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

A: My husband and I taught at a university in northeastern China for one year, and during our winter vacation we took the train 57 hours south to the city of Kunming. A friend directed us to an Italian restaurant run by an actual Neapolitan who had taken up permanent residence in China, where we gorged on pizza and pastiera. As the details of the actual meal are quite hazy, it’s unclear whether Rocco is actually the master chef I remember or if I was just ecstatic to eat cheese after six months.

Katharine Rauk was a Fall 2008 finalist for the Black River Chapbook Competition with her manuscript Basil, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press.

BLP Celebrates National Poetry Month

Black Lawrence Press will celebrate National Poetry Month by featuring a poem by one of our authors every day on the blog. Each poem will be accompanied by a short Q&A with the author. Participating authors include:

Abayomi Animashaun
Michele Battiste
T.J. Beitelman
Helen Marie Casey
Lisa Fay Coutley
Matthew Gavin Frank
Rachel Galvin
Brent Goodman
Carol Guess
Sandra Kolankiewicz
Frank Matagrano
Lawrance Matsuda
Laura McCullough
Kevin Pilkington
Shelley Puhak
Katharine Rauk
James Reidel
Brad Ricca
David Rigsbee
Hayden Saunier
Marcela Sulak
Jason Tandon
Keith Taylor
Stefi Weisburd
Joe Wilkins
Erica Wright

So be sure to check the BLP blog every day in the month of April for some great reading!