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
and from this distance, he is an
and I am not afraid.
Of Memory and Furniture is published by Fremantle Press and available in bookstores across the metro area.