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Finishing Line Press | 2017



In her first poetry collection, a chapbook about early motherhood and identity, L.J. Sysko investigates the paradox presented by love. Beginning with a new volcanic island hissing to hardness in the distance, Battledore sails to exotically familiar locales–pregnancy, birth, and postpartum depression–with “you” at the helm. Also humorous, Battledore pokes fun at its own predicament; what’s quotidian appears beside headier stuff: Charles Darwin & Candies heels, Elizabeth Bishop & Preparation H. Sysko’s imagination circumnavigates the wild freedom within.

Baby in the back. / Beast in the mirror.

from “Drive-thru” in BATTLEDORE
“In BATTLEDORE, L.J. Sysko digs in, dismantling motherhood and marriage with the quick thrusts of an oyster knife, eager to see whatever’s inside. Fearless, investigative, sometimes wickedly honest, these poems startle with keen, exacting language and a searing, incontrovertible intelligence.”
Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun

Sysko’s BATTLEDORE takes motherhood to heights of cinematic action typically exclusive not only to masculinity but to life outside of the domestic sphere as a whole.

Amy Stidham, writer for Capsule Reviews