If you go
What: Poetry book reading with Linda Battson, of Baggs, Wyo.
When: 2 p.m., Feb. 19
Where: Downtown Books, 543 Yampa Ave.
— Copies of Battson’s book, “What kind crazy,” will be available for purchase at the reading. Books can also be purchased by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Selected pieces from
“What kind crazy,” by Baggs resident Linda Battson
the last page
it's a crystal dark night along
the line of western shadows
as if passing history books
unfolding to trains robbed,
gunfights won, high kick saloons
and yet it's a future scene
a go west young girl moment
as track is laid deliberately,
one spike pounded in at a time
slow to show, molasses, chill,
prickles on a piñon pine,
and time jars around the dial
on her numb steering wrist
reminding of a history all hers
full of raping, gaping holes,
dances with lace, high
kicks in the face, spurs cutting
places that should be whole
all the while tempted to read
the last page of the book
before it is written.
I envy the bird
I envy the bird
who this morning
few past my balcony
in song, carefree
in early pink peace,
and dropped toward earth
but before shocking impact,
found his place
parallel to grass, his
wings spread, still,
not flapping against air,
yet resting in his purpose
which, for an early song bird,
is to sing and soar
what kind crazy
the moment digests, pressing
on chest and trachea hard realities
of a somewhat life, choking
them down as the gulps
keep time. and yet
there is an oil slowdown, a
viscous tiptoe toward insanity
which requires one signature
one decision to draw it forth to light
night's banging tapping into skull
sort of crazy. the kind that knows
you may not have signed your
blood name in the early haze of
morning, the kind that sneaks a
at its ingenious timing.
In 2007, Linda Battson came home from her job as a manager at Starbucks Coffee in Colorado Springs.
Something didn’t feel right.
She was in an emotionally dark place and didn’t know what was wrong. The feeling wasn’t something she was used to growing up as an adventurous tomboy in Los Angeles.
“I got home from work, and would sit on the couch for hours just feeling completely blank,” said Battson, who now lives in Baggs, Wyo.
Eventually, words started pouring out of her onto a page. She didn’t know what the words would amount to years later, but she said it felt good to see them materialize as poems.
“So, I used writing as a way to take everything that was conflicting in my head, in my heart, body, and kind of use it as a therapy for myself,” Battson said.
The first poem she wrote at the time was short and simple. It is called “My slate” and was a cry for a fresh start from her troubled marriage and growing depression.
“I didn’t realize I was so neglecting my spirit and my emotional side at the time,” she said. “So now looking back, when I look at all those poems I wrote during that period, it is so clear to me now that I was completely depressed.”
Instead of letting those feelings keep eating away at her, she formed a goal for her word therapy and started compiling them and posting them on her Facebook page.
“Something that I found was it was helping some of my friends who have been through some issues with depression or divorce,” she said.
The feedback eventually spurred Battson to compile and publish the 90 some poems she wrote over the last four years.
In December, Battson printed an initial run of her book, which is titled “What kind crazy,” all of which have now sold.
But, more are on the way, she said.
The 38-year-old Battson was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the San Fernando Valley in the 1980s.
She moved to Colorado in 2002 and started working for Starbucks in Colorado Springs. She is the daughter of Ken Battson, who owns the Fireside Family Restaurant in Baggs, Wyo.
Battson said she has always had an adventurous spirit, indicated by her time spent traveling through Russia and Bolivia.
“That adventurous spirit is also a part of why I’m so open to the senses around me and the things that I notice,” she said. “I am always looking for meaning in something else.”
She has two children — 12-year-old son Jacob and 10-year-old daughter Julianne. Her marriage ended in September of last year, she said.
Battson said she has been interested in poetry and literature all her life. She said she has been working on and off writing other literary works like screenplays and books, but poetry takes most of her time. She is currently the managing editor of the Snake River Press, a position she has held since November 2010.
The poetry she likes to write is simply raw, she said. And, like her life, it’s always honest, too.
“I try so hard to live a clear and honest life because I came out something that was so abusive and negative,” she said. “It’s like I want the opposite.”
Battson said she tries to convey her true emotions through her poetry, which she thinks helps readers make a deeper connection with her work.
“They are very accessible poems on a lot of levels, but they’re also like an onion — there is a lot in there that people don’t understand,” she said. “Or, they won’t know exactly what I was referring to, but they can interpret it on their own.”
But, from the feedback she has received, Battson said her poems seem to strike a chord.
“Their comments to me are so encouraging because they are like, ‘Wow, I have felt that,’” she said. “They might not have gone through the thing that caused me to write it, but they have had that same (gut) feeling before.”
Battson also uses the Baggs area as inspiration for some of her poetry, specifically in a poem titled “The Last Page,” which appears on the last page of her book.
The piece references “Western shadows as if passing history books unfolding to trains robbed, gunfights won,” and shifts to the experiences of a young woman.
Battson said the poem stemmed from the many times she drove from Baggs to Craig and back staring at landscape silhouettes created by the sunset. The last line of the poem, and of the book, is a somewhat veiled reference to suicide, something she had previously considered, she said.
“All the while tempted to read the last page of the book before it is written,” the line reads.
While the line may leave the book on somewhat of down note for readers who understand the reference, Battson hopes she can bring a positive message to others through the book as a whole and her experiences overcoming depression.
She hopes to start a regional book tour, stopping and speaking with those who have been affected by depression and mental illness. She said she wants to show there is hope and ways to cope with those feelings.
“I want to speak to women,” she said. “I want to speak to college students — it touches on mental illness and there can be a stigma against mental illness whether it is bipolar or depression.
“But, I’m a successful, working, single mom who is making it happen.”
Battson will host a book reading at 2 p.m. Feb. 19 at Downtown Books in Craig and another event around the same date at a bookstore in Steamboat Springs.
Despite everything she has been through in the last several years, the once-valley girl said she is content living in rural Wyoming.
After all, Baggs is a “peaceful place” for her, she said.
“I’m kind of finally blossoming, becoming myself,” she said with a smile.
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