Wednesday 30 December 2020

The Festive Backroom: Catherine Strisik

I'm delighted to feature a remarkable poet in the Backroom today. Catherine Strisik is a poet from New Mexico of Greek background. Her poetry is full of rich imagery, weaving together present and past to create a commentary on her life and on the issues that concern her. She is currently Poet Laureate of Taos, New Mexico. Taos became a haven for a community of artists and writers in the early 20th Century, DH Lawrence writing his novel 'The Plumed Serpent' there. A foundation now organises a huge range of artistic ventures across the whole of New Mexico and beyond.

Catherine is a recipient of 2020 Taoseña Award as Woman of Influence based on literary contribution; is author of 'Insectum Gravitis' (finalist New Mexico Book Award in Poetry 2020); 'The Mistress' (awarded New Mexico/AZ Book Award for Poetry 2017); 'Thousand-Cricket Song', and a recently completed manuscript 'And They Saw Me Turn To Hear Them' which is currently a semi-finalist in the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry, 2021. She has poetry translated into Greek, Persian, and Bulgarian. She is co-founder of the 'Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art'. Catherine’s poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has been awarded numerous grants and residencies, and scholarships from Vermont Studio Centre, Lakkos/Crete Artist Residency, and Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

Here she works with motifs of femininity, heritage and memory to create a marvellous, sensual mosaic of a poem:


I Wake in Heraklion with Lady Beetles

I am soft with healing after
I am luxuriant with good fortune after
I am cloaked by lady beetles a scent of salted olive, my nature after
all means spacious means rhododendron and a pretty mouth.

If I give the impression of canopied with black spots after
my sorrow believe me when I say I am in pursuit of myself and a kiss and might after
I be a ridge on Mount Ida might local winegrowers and cicadas might my hollow after
deep between my thighs be my greeting braced  ̶

There’s femininity a softening
I’d forgotten.
                                  I’d cherish the softening
Holy is the body

its roundness the flesh
its brine a sweet

secret at age 58
a shuttered

body   a cherished   resumé.
There’s so much song even in heartache   and my heart   the female body after
bird melody my simple request after

the seeded bread I’d bought at the base of Lasíthi flavored with orange rind.
I am a Greek woman’s body I was told in the marketplace after
buying a potato and sea bream
the morning planes flew overhead celebrating Saint Minas when two vendors
said    you are one of us    you look like us    the earthy

Polite. Greek.

And the lady beetles they mean I am composed of a million single cries.

Catherine's website here:

An Interview here from 'Poeticanet':

More poems from 'Drunken Boat 18'


  1. So very beautiful, dear Cathy. Hoping for a newer and better earth for all who inhabit it, with the light that is always behind the darkness shining through. Many blessings...