Gunpowder Press is honored to present the 2015 Barry Spacks Poetry Prize winner, Catherine Abbey Hodges, and her first full-length collection, Instead of Sadness. Advance praise for Instead of Sadness
In Catherine Abbey Hodges’ Instead of Sadness the beauty is there as the bread of life, as the poems enter and grow in us—the kind of experience we come to expect in good poems—the feeling of “Ah yes, that’s right.” In classically beautiful and precise language, we are reminded again and again of what we didn’t know we knew. They effect their changes in us subtly and steadily, convincing us that their perceptions and discoveries are our own—which, when we have given them our full attention, is exactly right. In the course of discovering her own experience in the unfolding of the poem she lets us in on the adventure; we believe we are experiencing her surprise at the poem’s destination just as she is discovering it. And we know, at that moment, that we are the better for it. These are truly beautiful, finely honed poems.
—Dan Gerber, author of Sailing through Cassiopeia
Catherine Abbey Hodges’ Instead of Sadness is a book to savor. One can’t rush through these poems; they’re not built for speed. They arrive on the page without waste, in language that is intimate and transparent. At times they come at you from an unusual angle—not the expected poem about flowers, for example, but one about their stems. And some of her poems are relatively short, holding up to the light a passing moment or two. But to paraphrase one of her metaphors: word, phrase, poem, each should “carry something larger than itself / without swaggering.” And that’s the beauty of her work. Calm and meditative, lyrical, structured more by the shift of images than by events, her poems carry a human and spiritual resonance of what is “signed and wondrous” long after they close.
—Peter Everwine, author of Listening Long and Late
Instead of sadness, what does Catherine Abbey Hodges offer us in her latest collection of poems? Wonder. Reverence. An embrace of polarities. She offers us—inside each musical line, within each vibrant trope—a luminous wisdom. Each poem gives us an arresting bit of the world, its “jumbled / life: shabby, incandescent.” Each poem gives us a world “replenished like a well // in blues and greens and wings.” Nuanced, deeply lyrical, Hodges’ work moves us in ways that call us to be more human, more humane. That her poems are alive and making their way in our world is cause for much grateful celebration.
—Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emeritus