Q&A with Courtney LeBlanc
Which of your tattoos is your absolute favorite? Which has the most fun story attached to it?
My favorite tattoo is probably my newest one – I’m one session away from finishing a full sleeve on my left arm. It started years ago, when I was 19 and got a simple, tribal band around my left bicep. Then in my 30s I added to it and made it a quarter-sleeve – a paisley and lace combo, covering up what I’d originally had tattooed. Then in fall of 2021, while I was recovering from meniscus repair surgery, I saw a post that my tattoo artist had opened her own studio. I’d been thinking of doing a full sleeve but after talking to her—and knowing her vision would pull it all together, I made the appointments and started the process! Now it’s a beautiful combination of lace, mandalas, and paisleys and I love it!
Many of your poems focus on finding bits of pieces in life that you can control or are focused on times of "perfection", especially regarding appearance. What do you feel that your relationship with control has become as you’ve been writing these poems?
Writing poems has always been an outlet for me and by channeling the desire for control and perfection into the poems, it has less of a hold on me. It’s something I still battle, and likely always will, but poetry allows a place for those feelings to go, a place for them to live that’s not inside me.
You talked about watching Dirty Dancing as a comfort after your dad died, what are your favorite comfort shows and bands when things get tough?
I don’t watch television and I used to only watch movies on planes (pre-pandemic I traveled 50% of the time for my job) but I do love movies from my childhood – Dirty Dancing, Footloose. I’ll often re-watch a movie I’ve seen because it’s a comfort to know what’s going to happen: I’m going to cry every time I watch Dead Poet’s Society but I can have it on while I’m doing something else.
For music I listen to a little of everything but I love William Fitzsimmons – he’s a folk artist who was once a therapist so I equate him to a singing poet, his music is about the same topics I write about – love, loss, fear, denial.
If a complete stranger asked you to explain your experiences and how they shaped this book, what would you say to them?
My dad’s death was a huge influence in this book and so many of the poems revolve around that. I was close with my dad, so I processed a lot of my grief by writing poems. But tangled up in there is also the disordered eating I’ve suffered from for nearly 30 years. At times my grief and my disordered eating were intertwined so much I couldn’t tell them apart. There’s also hope in there to, a moving past of the things that haunt us.
How do you pick which nail polish to use next and what is your absolute favorite shade?
I almost always choose dark colors – black, gray, dark red, etc.. I love reading the names of the polish, a poet certainly must have named them! A current favorite is a dark red wine color named Vampsterdam. My go-to black polish is OPI’s Black Onyx.
Are you more naturally drawn to grief or humor as a writer?
Definitely grief though I’m always wonderfully surprised when I’m able to successfully include humor in poems, I think it’s much harder to do well.