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Katherine Hastings’ poems play with consciousness on many levels. Nature, literature, and human experience catch memorably within the threads of their dense and startling webs.
Shakespeare and Stein Walk into a Bar is animated by the two most rewarding and replenishing of poetic forces: dexterous formal diversity and a fierce, unflinching searching. “Where to go from here?” the book begins, lifting us through “the world we’ve left to ourselves” and singing us at last to the still point where “We, too, dissolve” with “all of it finding its way — somewhere.” Shakespeare and Stein Walk into a Bar is more than a collection of poems; it is a quest fulfilled by destination.
Dear William Shakespeare, an heiress has appeared! Historians can’t trace the Bard’s descendants too far after his daughters, but a Shakespearean sonneteer has mysteriously reappeared in the form of Katherine Hastings and her wildly compelling sonnets. What eloquence! What originality! And what poems for the ages!”
Whether she is exploring memory or embracing loss or love, Katherine Hastings so fully inhabits these poems that the reader is allowed to surrender to her deft use of language and embark on a journey of the soul, filled with a radiance of spirit that transcends the everyday routines of life, “..last night in moonlight, long fingers/of trees signed their language/ the way deaf women sing…”, and “There is nowhere to go/but here on a corner with the unblessed/supplementing Social Security,/our shadows merged on hard pavement…” Finally, these are poems that offer a luminous stillness, mysterious yes, but filled with exquisitely articulated moments that are pitch-perfect.
Katherine Hastings is the author of Nighthawks (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014) and Cloud Fire (Spuyten Duyvil, 2012) as well as several chapbooks including Slow Shadow/White Delirium with Lee Slonimsky. She is the editor of Digging Our Poetic Roots — Poems from Sonoma County (WordTemple Press, 2015) and What Redwoods Know — Poems from California State Parks, an anthology that was sold as a fund-raiser for the California State Parks Foundation when 70 parks were faced with permanent closure. Hastings is Sonoma County poet laureate emerita, the curator of the WordTemple Poetry Series, and host of WordTemple on NPR affiliate KRCB FM. She grew up in the Cow Hollow neighborhood of San Francisco, received her MFA in Writing from Vermont College, and lives in Santa Rosa, CA. For more information go to wordtemple.com.