Brutal bard

BRON BATEMAN’S graphic and emotionally raw poems belie her gentle manner and warm smile.

I expected the Northbridge author to be loud and aggressive, but I was sitting across from a polite 56-year-old blonde in a lacy red top.

It’s a birthday gift from her wife of 16 years, she says.

As the interview unfolds, I can see that Bateman’s arms are riddled with tiny white scars, partially hidden by tattoos.

She began self-mutilating as a teen; a reaction to the fear and self-loathing triggered by years of sexual abuse from her father.

“They [the tattoos] are all there for a reason,” the Murdoch academic says. “They are a reclamation of my skin.”

Bateman’s slender book of chronological poems Of Memory and Furniture touches on her childhood, her first marriage to a bloke and their seven children, and her second marriage and another daughter.

“I always wanted a big family,” she says.

Her poems explores female embodiment, sexuality and relationships with family, lovers and institutions.

Some are gentle and tender, while others are erotic-bordering-on-pornographic.

There’s a brutality and hard edge to many of the poems, while others are tender and poignant.

In 2017 her poem The Lemon Picker won Columbia University’s winter poetry contest.

It’s a liberating account of seeing but not speaking to her abuser, after many years. He’s picking lemons and Bateman observes him from a distance.

He turns his head and stares

at me

without recognition,

and from this distance, he is an

old man

and I am not afraid.

Of Memory and Furniture is published by Fremantle Press and available in bookstores across the metro area.

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