Katherine Hastings’ poems in A Different Beauty stem from our recent tragedies—fire, pandemic, politics, et al. They are poems of restoration and transformation, the miracle and beauty of rebirth rising out of catastrophe. This is the poetry of a Californian who has fled to the East, and the clarity and perspective that the shock of a new environment and geography provides. Eastern formality and Western informality: in these poems you experience both (“the trick is to stay free…”). From the West to the East, from one beauty to the other. “To keep my dipped wing/of whale and wren and rock,/the dazzled life-force flaming through//…. You’ve changed too.” California misses her. We need her. But so does New York. So does the world.
author of My Beard
This is a lovely book of poetry. In its pages you can find the breadth of skies, the vicissitudes of waves, the virulence of fires and ash which demand we make ourselves, our homes anew and birds’ spread wings that reflect fire and blood. Water as river, as rain, as snow, and with the constancy of oceans flavor these poems of memory and loss, acceptance and humility, death and renewal. These poems are layered and deep while shaped by language that is elegant in its simplicity.
San Francisco's Third Poet Laureate
This is sensual and essential music, embodied and alive to each moment, this world her world becomes our own, where light begins, each breath and heartbeat, beauty in the ashes and anguish, beauty wherever we find it, and yes, we find it here.
Katherine Hastings grew up in the Cow Hollow neighborhood of San Francisco and lived for nearly three decades in Sonoma County, California. She is the author of three other full-length collections published by Spuyten Duyvil—Shakespeare & Stein Walk Into a Bar (2016); Nighthawks (2014) and Cloud Fire (2012). Poet laureate emerita of Sonoma County, CA, Hastings edited the anthologies Know Me Here—An Anthology of Poetry by Women; Digging Our Poetic Roots—Poems from Sonoma County; and What Redwoods Know—Poems from California State Parks. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Book of Forms—A Handbook of Poetics (University Press of New England); Fog and Light—San Francisco Through the Eyes of the Poets Who Live Here (Blue Light Press); Changing Harm to Harmony—Bullies & Bystanders Project (Marin Poetry Center) and many others. She hosted WordTemple on NPR affiliate KRCB FM (2007-2017) and founded the WordTemple Poetry Series in Sonoma County (2006-2017), hosting poets such as Robert Hass, Alicia Ostriker, Ishmael Reed, Diane DiPrima, Al Young, Michael McClure, Dana Gioia, nikki giovanni, Jane Hirshfield, Kjell Espmark, Natalie Diaz, Ada Limón, Brenda Hillman, Kay Ryan, Kevin Simmonds and dozens of others. Following the October 2017 wildfires that destroyed over 6,000 homes overnight, Hastings moved with her partner to an island on the Niagara River in early 2018.