Marie Gauthier

Pine Row Issue No. 4 Winter 2021 - Featured Poet

Bomb de terre

—From a headline in The Telegraph

Hand grenades dug up for potatoes

in France—how often do we evade

calamity? Most things can be mistaken

for potatoes in dirt. Clean them up,

most things are still ordinary.

The children color at their stations

after the lockdown drill, lights on,

crisscross applesauce. They keep

their hands to their own bodies.

The marchers wave signs and chant

in unison, arms locked, in lock-step,

safe in numbers. The walk you take ends

at a sunlit café, where you drink

chai, a glass of water, and walk home

again, smelling of cardamom.

Heedless geniuses of the place,

we consult no one and live on, not

even pretending to read the sign,

striding off across new grass.

December Eclipse

Dove-colored damasks

of cloud scud by, soften

the bite of a starlit night,

the antipodes of resolution

and result. Snow falls

in longhand, a desultory

expanse of loops across

an obsidian moon, dark

doppelgänger—the year’s

dilating eye.

Interview with Marie Gauthier

by Pine Row Editorial Board

How did you get started as a poet?

When I was in tenth grade, my teacher challenged the class, which was studying poetry at the time, to each of us write a poem, in any form, on any subject; the idea was to gain an appreciation of what goes into a poem from the other side. As a lifelong reader, I was elated to discover I could write and contribute to the literary conversation too.

Do you show your work in progress to anyone?

I have a core group of wildly talented poets friends with whom I workshop on a semi-regular basis. Our different styles and interests help challenge and enlarge my perspective.

Who are three influential living poets?

I am in no way comparing my poems to theirs, but I'm inspired by Ross Gay's exuberance and generosity of spirit, by Lisa Russ Spaar's lush language, and by Joanna Klink's spare and exquisite lyricism.

How did you first get published?

When I was a young poet, if I wasn't reading or writing, I was typing up my poems and putting together submission packets for literary journals. I've always enjoyed the process of finding the right homes for my poems, but receiving that SASE in my mailbox, fat with my returned poems, was tough to take. The first literary journal to give my poems a chance was Iconoclast, edited by Phil Wagner.

Favorite quote (doesn’t matter the source):

From Eavon Boland's A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet: “Poetry begins where language starts: in the shadows and accidents of one person's life.”

What would you say is your most interesting writing habit?

I don't know how interesting this is, but, as someone who works full-time, with a family and many volunteer commitments besides, I can find it hard to put two coherent thoughts together on a regular basis. If time is short, I'll prioritize reading poetry over writing; reading replenishes my well and connects me to other worlds. But even though I might not be writing fleshed-out, thought-through poems, I keep a draft Google Doc open in my tabs and a small notebook in my purse to jot down random phrases and images that occur to me in the course of my day. If it's just a rough idea, I also try to provide some words of context to jolt my memory later. Then, when I do have the mind space to devote to writing, I have a small trove ready to delve into and explore.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

Every side, coffee, and bedside table in my house has stacks of books on it, which I'm constantly shuffling and moving around. I just finished the stellar Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark, and am now alternating between Jonathan Farmer's That Peculiar Affirmative: On the Social Life of Poems, and Sandra Lim's The Curious Thing.

Marie Gauthier is the author of Hunger All Inside (FLP, 2009). Her poems have appeared in Poetry Northwest, Sugar House Review, Cave Wall, and elsewhere. Formerly with Tupelo Press, she works for Pioneer Valley Books, a publisher of literacy resources, runs the Collected Poets Series in Shelburne Falls, Mass., where she lives with her family, and serves as the founding president of the League of Women Voters of Franklin County.