Professor Emerita’s New Book Centers on “What’s Remembered, What’s Observed, and What’s Imagined”

Professor Emerita’s New Book Centers on “What’s Remembered, What’s Observed, and What’s Imagined”

Books, Creative Writing

February 6, 2023

Professor Emerita’s New Book Centers on “What’s Remembered, What’s Observed, and What’s Imagined”

Award-winning poet and novelist Pablo Medina promises that “you’ll be heartened by the wisdom, clarity, and honesty” of the new poetry collection by Professor of English Emerita Cathryn Hankla ’80, M.A. ’82.

Immortal Stuff, released this month by Mercer University Press, is Hankla’s 11th volume of poetry and second full-length collection of prose poems. It offers what the publisher describes as “an intimate catalog of what’s remembered, what’s observed, and what’s imagined. Lyrical or narrative by turns, nuanced and deft, Hankla’s prose poems range through the realms of reflection and imagination, finding them not so different….Significance pours in equal measures from relationships, objects, and situations meant to mark us, confound us, and change us continually from contact with the wonderous and the ordinary – and the insights we take away.”

Medina calls the book “a collection of moments, stories, and encounters that form a labyrinth we could otherwise call the human condition. [Hankla] speaks to us as an old friend we must listen to. If you haven’ t read Hankla before you’ll be surprised at her range – Gershwin, Mozart, tree frogs, Gettysburg – and her music, evident here in prose poems that sing as few can.”

Pulitzer Prize winner Henry Taylor M.A. ’66 praises Immortal Stuff‘s prose poems for how they “move with assurance even when the topic may be lack of assurance, drifting from recognizable, concrete surroundings in which comfort is possible, through something like a bead curtain, into realms more privately Cathryn Hankla’s, and now thanks to her multifarious gifts, ours as well. Reading this book has improved my life.”

Born in the Appalachian mountain town of Richlands, Virginia, Hankla spent most of her academic career at Hollins. She directed the Jackson Center for Creative Writing, twice chaired the Department of English and Creative Writing, and has served as poetry editor of The Hollins Critic since 1996. She was Hollins’ Jackson Professor of Creative Writing from 2012 to 2014.

Hankla has published 16 books in multiple genres and her writing has been awarded the James Boatwright III Poetry Prize, a PEN Syndicated Fiction Prize, and a Virginia Commission for the Arts grant in poetry. Her poetry is anthologized in The Southern Poetry Anthology, IX: Virginia; A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia; World English Poetry; The Southern Poetry Anthology; Shenandoah: 20 Years of Poetry; and Mississippi Review Anthology, among others. Her poems, stories, and essays appear regularly in journals such as New World Writing, Arts & Letters, Jubilat, Appalachian Heritage, Denver Quarterly, North American Review, and Alaska Quarterly. Her artwork is exhibited at Roanoke’s Market Gallery, and she has received artist fellowships in the U.S. as well as abroad in Malta, Spain, and France.