Michele Balze - Interview

  • Michele Balze
    Michele Balze
December 11, 2012
In the summer of 2012 I interviewed the 1989 Sophie Kerr Prize winner, Michele Balze. 

What was the first book you fell in love with? 

The first book I fell in love with was Little House on the Prairie.  For some reason, when I was in elementary school, I was fascinated by the way people lived in the nineteenth century.  I used to read the first book in the series over and over.  Eventually, I acquired the whole series and read those over and over.  They built a house out of sod at one point and at another point they spent a whole winter stuck in their house eating old potatoes.  Fascinating.  Laura Ingalls married a man named Manly Wilder.  Fascinating.

What is your favorite word? 


Other than reading, what is a favorite hobby of yours?

My favorite hobby is music.  About ten years ago I learned to play guitar and I love to learn and practice different rhythms.  Before that, I was mostly into going to clubs to hear new music and dance.  Punk, Ska, and Reggae are probably my favorite types of music.

If you were stranded on an island with any author in the world or in history, who would you want that author to be?

At this point, the answer would be Ezra Pound.  For a long time, the answer would most definitely have not been Ezra Pound, but I’ve reconciled myself to him.  I could imagine us having a lot of good conversations and not getting into any really serious fights.  Plus, he seems like a self-sufficient sort of person, which is good to have when stranded on an island.

What was it like to hear your called as the Sophie Kerr Winner?

It was kind of a relief, actually.  Only in the last few moments before my name was called did I think winning was a possibility and that I really did want to win.  After my name was called, I heard some people in the crowd chanting my last name, and that reminded me of how I was part of a whole writing community. 

 What did you do after graduation?

After graduation, I went to Austria for a month and did language immersion at University of Saltzburg.  I needed two languages for graduate school, so I studied German there, because I already had French.  In the fall, I started a PhD Program in English Literature at University of Rochester where I studied Modernism in America and England with a Special Field in Word and Image Studies.

Do you have any advice to new and future Sophie Kerr winners?

My advice to new and future Sophie Kerr winners would be to give yourself time to think about your identity as a writer and why writing is important, not only to you, but to culture.  These are things they might have to think about anyway, but the rush of the whole experience of winning doesn’t always give much time for contemplation.


Last modified on Dec. 12th, 2012 at 3:29pm by .