Episode 13: Interview with Natalie Hanna

The Small Machine Talks with a.m. kozak and Amanda Earl

Recorded on March 12, 2017

Interview with Natalie Hanna

We discuss the intimacy of Ottawa’s literary scene in the 90s and the variety today, the myriad opportunities in small press publishing for emerging authors. Amanda compliments Natalie’s radio voice. We discuss small press scenes across Canada. Amanda mentions the Festival of Literary Diversity. Amanda asks about Natalie’s chapbook with above/ground press’s imprint, Stanzas, which published a sequence of poems about her mother.

Aaron and Natalie discuss returning to Ottawa after having been away, the feelings of familiarity and displacement. Aaron mentions how exceptional the spoken word scene was ten years ago. Amanda discusses the spoken word scene in the early aughts with spoken word artists such as Anthony Bansfield and Oni the Haitian Sensation.

Aaron asks Natalie about the origins of Battleaxe Press and the challenges of chapbook publishing. Natalie talks about dear friend and mentor, rob mclennan, who advised her to work at her own pace, since she already has a full time profession. Amanda talks about the insight into the work from having to lay the poems out. Aaron mentions the intimate process of collaboration between editor and writer. Natalie tells us about the negative connotations of battleaxe, a domineering, overbearing woman. She talks about Carrie Nation, a radical member of the tempest association, who was arrested for hatchetation.

We talk about “Cutting Up,” Natalie’s chapbook, a conversation with Shakespeare’s skull and the circumscribing of women’s rights. Natalie discusses the impetus for the chapbook, the Ghomeshi trial, the issues of consent and the justice system. Natalie talks about the violence done to characters in Shakespeare’s works. We break into song briefly.

Amanda asks about the role of politics in poetry, citing Auden and Natalie’s poems that engage with feminism and activism. Natalie talks about Auden’s political poetry and the background, how the poet can set society free by reflecting it back to itself and the connection we can get from poetry. Natalie discusses the role of feminism in her life and writing. Natalie reads an excerpt from “Cutting Up,” the poem “Only.”

Aaron talks about how effective Natalie’s reading of the poem was at the Ottawa Arts Review launch, how much it engaged the audience in a small, intimate room. Amanda talks about the concept of a rock star poem.

Natalie discusses “the bird, philomela,” the chapbook anthology that raised funds for the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, launched at Sawdust last summer. We talk about the difficulty of reading poems on the subject of abuse and violence.

Aaron wonders about the tension between self-expression and political argumentation or persuasion, something that occurs in all art. Natalie talks about writing for herself as being more authentic, more successful. Aaron asks about the difference between how she approaches writing poetry and her profession as a lawyer.

Amanda praises Natalie’s eloquent, passionate and feisty poems and asks about influences. Natalie talks about her influences, which include poets and prose writers. Some of the current journals such as the Minola Review and Canthius. We talk about her collaboration with Liam Burke. Natalie tells us about an upcoming show in Ottawa in May called Blood and Bones.