We welcome you to an evening reception for Susan Hankla’s new collection of poetry, Clinch River, published on July 14th, 2017. These poems tell tales of the hardscrabble loves and lives of Hankla’s Appalachian characters. Susan Hankla is a native Virginian, born in Roanoke, VA and grew up in Richlands, VA, in the Appalachian Mountains. Her book has been praised by notable poets, Richard Peabody and Joan Houlihan. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and a book signing will follow the reading. Accompanying Susan Hankla’s poetry, live music played on the fiddle will be performed by local artist Laura Pharis, whose art is featured on the cover of Clinch River.
This event is free and open to the public. Cash Bar will be available. Doors open at 6:30 pm, reading will start at 7pm. Studio 109 is on the first floor down the hall from our main gallery.
More About the Author:
Susan Hankla is a writer living in Richmond, VA. She teaches writing classes at the Visual Art Center, serving the adult education community. She is also an exhibiting visual artist. Her first full-length collection of poems is published by Groundhog Poetry Press, LLC, a new poetry imprint. Other works have been published in Gargoyle, Beloit Fiction Journal, Michigan Quarterly Review, Blue Mesa, Artemis, Hollins Critic, Open Places, Southern Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest and the New Virginia Review. She has a chapbook published by Burning Deck Press. She is a recipient of a Virginia Commission on the Arts Grant for Fiction, and of a fellowship to attend the Frost Place, and she has enjoyed being a fellow many times at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She is a graduate of Hollins University, and has an MFA in creative writing from Brown University.
Susan Hankla’s debut poetry collection, “Clinch River”, published by Groundhog Poetry Press, LLC, has Appalachian women canning dirt in Mason jars, pushing husbands down wishing wells, and trying to read the signs on Hostess cupcakes. This landscape is made of thorns, where the golden fleece of ambition snags on troubles. A woman leaves town just so she can write a love letter to her husband. Another dispatches her man down the well.
A real body of water in Appalachia, the Clinch is also a clenching river that baptizes souls as it takes them. Through lyrical narrative poems peopled by school friends, veterans, and ghosts, Hankla presents the poverty of the psychic wound, such as regret, as well as the wounds that poverty asserts, such as longing. The axe of fate chops off the tip of Junior’s index finger, and we follow him till he is transparent. Some wounds heal over time and a narrator enters her doppelganger, Glenda, to give us that sturdy girl’s one-eyed view. Following her into middle age, we’ll hear her tell it like it is, when her friend can’t. Wearing a red sweater, the narrator tries to leave the premises, but comes unraveled, as if it’s Glenda who makes sure of her return, so that together, they bear witness to the issues of cooking with lard and slaughtering hogs, of crazy men and the deaths of them.
“Clinch River” can be ordered directly from Groundhog Poetry Press, LLC.