Michelle Matthees

The poem Range was written from a photograph of a boy at the Fergus Falls State Hospital in Minnesota, circa 1900. In the photo the boy wears a thick, knotted rope round his neck. The poem is from “Complicated Warding,” a recently-completed collection of poems written in the voices of inmates at Minnesota poor farms, mental hospitals, orphanages, and reformatories at the turn of the last century. My writing process is erratic; I sometimes go months without writing. Also, unlike many writers, I do not revise very much. I recently heard Lydia Davis say that once you’ve created a bad line in your mind it is hard to unremember it. She was speaking about translation, but I find this to be true for my own original work as well. I have a day job working as a hall monitor at a middle school, scooping up stray students and returning them to class. My first collection of poems, titled “Flucht,” came out last year from New Rivers Press.