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In the Poet's Spotlight for January 2008:  Cathryn Hankla

Cathryn Hankla was born in Richlands, Virginia and educated in the Virginia public schools.  She took her BA and MA degrees from Hollins College, where she is currently Professor of English and creative writing.  She has also taught at University of Virginia, Randolph-Macon Woman's College, and Washington and Lee University.  Her ten books of poetry and fiction include two novels, a collection of stories, and seven books of poetry.  Her work has been honored by the Academy of American Poets, PEN, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.  She has held residencies at the Fundacion Valparaiso in Spain and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.  She has presented readings of her work from Wyoming to Michigan, Florida to Maine, and abroad in Cambridge, Prague, and Southern Spain. (For more information see

(Above Photo and Art in background by Ann Glover)

Index of Hankla's Poems: Scroll down or click on Poem Title

Poems of Cathryn Hankla (below)  copyright Cathryn Hankla, All rights reserved.


          God Attack

             The girl floats down the country road-oh how the
             glorious cows and pretty horses roam and graze.  The girl
             wanders past, daydreaming in the pastoral setting, the
             icing on the cake she's eating every day.  She's thinking
             about the nature of god, but the message traveling
             through the air converts, and, lo, dogs come instead, to
             eat her.   On the horizon they gather and growl and run
             to set upon the girl and wrestle her to the ground
             leaving blood, embedded gravel, nightmares, and later
             scars.  All thoughts of nature being God go by the way. 
             All nature gods turn ugly to her sight, and surely are
             not God, not the one she had in mind when the dogs came
             out of the blue, charging through goldenrod, which, if
             she considers her allergies, should have been a sign. 
             She realizes with embarrassment that she wants to limit
             God in this small way (and that others want to limit God
             in other ways) and that to limit God at all is just the
             opposite of what she had in mind when she was wandering
             down the road, expanding.  All in all she's glad that she
             was only set upon by dogs.  And thanks be to whatever.

              From:   Texas School Book Depository: prose poems, LSU Press, 2000

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             The commonplace butterflies any child identifies
             winter in Mexico.  Millions enfold in certain limbs. 
             When born in August, by November they home south to
             mate.  By some grace of genetic material the creatures
             cross the border into volcanic camouflage, like souls
             dropping into new skins.

             for my father, 8/21/19-11/14/99

             From:  Texas School Book Depository: prose poems, LSU Press, 2000


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          Reading Simone Weil at a Tender Age 
             "We love like cannibals," she wrote, at an early
             age, this Jewish Christian, who never converted, who
             refused to eat at the age of four when she learned French
             soldiers didn't have enough food.  These are facts I remember
             of her.  Here are some facts about me:  I locked my
             bedroom door and read behind it during adolescence.  One
             time my father kicked my poodle.  Only words held my
             attention.  Right after he screamed something
             incomprehensible about everyone being out to get him and
             slammed his fist into a door, my mother used to say,
             "Your father loves you in his own way."

              From:  Texas School Book Depository: prose poems, LSU Press, 2000


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             Ponder the vanished woman whom legend suggests a
             triangle absorbed.  Ponder the vanished woman whom late
             history suggests may have been a spy.  Ponder the
             vanished woman who opened into the sky.  For all her life
             lifting.  Her husband hand-holds the camera as she climbs
             into her wings, face unworried and soaring.  The view
             flattened the planet, her mode of sight as remote,
             dangerous, distanced as god on a clear day.  Mystery only
             ameliorates this distance.  Icarus does enter in, but
             barely, yet note how many times he tries to interfere,
             impose his story once again.  A grandmother stitches a
             scrap quilt and despite no measurement it turns out
             rectangular.  Fear opposes.  History teaches.  Her quilt
             startles my white wall.  Ponder the vanished woman,

             From:  Texas School Book Depository: prose poems, LSU Press, 2000



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