National Poetry Month Spotlight: Sandra Kolankiewicz

At nearly four in the morning
I realized the house was singing
like a vibrating wire, as if someone
were strumming a string, a distant
melody I couldn’t quite hear
or ignore, as though the heavens were calling to me,
brightness of snow glaring through the window,
the cold air outside on fire.
Somewhere a planet was spinning as it turned a wide arc
through the blackness—
out beyond the low, dense clouds
hanging over the valley—
in spite of the steam
rising up from the chimneys,
the squirrels sleeping in the walls, the bats
silent in the eaves—
only that music in my head when all was quiet,
when the noise of the day turned from the night
toward the dawn, before the thrumming
and beating of persons in hallways, the rustling of papers,
clicking of keys, the car motors idling
in parking lots—in that moment prior
to the easing of the break, the pressure on the pedal,
the hands on the wheel.

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

A: The time was around 4 in the morning, and I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I had fallen asleep reading to my son, and my husband must have turned off the light in the room.  I lay there, listening to my son breathe, and the house as it  made a strange singing sound that was probably the response of its old clapboards to the 10 below weather outside.  The blind in the room was down, but in spite of that covering, there was so much snow in the yard that any light outside was reflected, and the window appeared lit from beyond.  I decided that I could either just think about writing a poem, or I could get out of bed and write one–so I threw on an old sweater, went into my daughter’s room to watch her sleep for a moment, then went upstairs to what I call ‘The Fort’ and wrote the poem.

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

A: I recently acquired all of Black Lawrence Press’s poetry titles, and they are all so fantastic that they encourage me to commit the sincerest form of flattery and imitate them.  Any time of day or night, I pick up one of the books, read a poem or two, put it down, and pick up another book by a different author.  Such a range of voices!  Beyond that, the book 1491 made me write a few poems in response to its subject matter.  There was also an article in National Geographic about lungfish that inspired me.

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

A: Rice and beans with diced avocado.  My husband and daughter would answer ‘steak.’  My son likes nothing better than pizza.

Sandra Kolankiewicz is the Fall 2007 winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition with her manuscript Turning Inside Out, available for purchase at Black Lawrence Press.