How refreshing to come across a book like Katherine Hastings’ marvelous Cloud Fire, rich and verdant in formal experiment and range. Mixing lyrics, narratives, curses, blessings, spells, and unabashed love poems, the work is hard-won and honest, generous and rigorous. In poem after poem Katherine Hastings casts her ever-vigilant, observing eye, sharp as it is poignant. Her deepest concern seems our perilous locale and planet: “My city whose streams are rock doves and parrots/ whose bright arm is a spring board for love and suicides” and yet “we breathe here better than anywhere, distressed.”
Lovely... it’s your veiled history.
For Katherine Hastings, “The mirror is a lake of longing.” Her poems are told us by “a woman with a moon in her chest”; their surprising images embrace close observation, deeply dramatized love and losses, and have the power of crossing boundaries of spirit to reveal truths otherwise unseen.
Daniel Hoffman, U.S. Poet Laureate, 1973-74
Katherine Hastings is a poet whose words embody light; she is the ambassador of luminescence to American poetry today. It is no wonder that clouds catch on fire in this magnificent and transformative collection. In poems like “Whittenberg”, where an atmosphere of light invades and reshapes, “Pushing off from the Wall”, where white cells of water, jewel-lined/undulate amoeba-shapes, and “Twister” clear blue prophecy is proclaimed. In “Bird. Song. Knife. Heart” (No one saw her glide among the lake or river/a radiance wrapped in flame), and “Mother” (“Light transfers from the formless/smatters across the given/world”), and so many others, Hastings truly succeeds in evoking a continent of light on radiant pages ...There is no voice like hers! I wholeheartedly recommend Cloud Fire, poems that will illumine your consciousness both while reading and long, long afterwards.
Katherine Hastings grew up in the Cow Hollow neighborhood of San Francisco. Her poems have been published widely in journals and anthologies. Chapbooks published are Fog and Light (Ahadada Reader 3, Ahadada Press 2011); and Updraft (Finishing Line Press, 2010). She is the host of WordTemple on NPR affiliate KRCB FM and curator of the WordTemple Poetry Series in Sonoma County, CA. Her Small Change Series of WordTemple Press has published beat poet David Meltzer, San Francisco poet laureate emerita devorah major, and many others, as well as the anthology What Redwoods Know — Poems from California State Parks (all proceeds go to the California State Parks Foundation). She lives in Sonoma County with her partner, CJ Rayhill and Chihuahua, Gizmo Federíco Garcia Lorca. For more information go to www.wordtemple.com.