Cathryn Hankla Returns to Richmond

cathryn hankla returns richmond
That’s an announcement I’d dearly love to see! Last night was her first reading and signing in Richmond and I, for one, want more. She read from her two newest books. She started with a selection from lost places: on losing and finding home which was released in April.


cathryn hankla lost places
It is a memoir in essay form. But unlike the many trauma memoirs out there, this is more an exploration of her life in relation to people and places. She uses home in both a physical and metaphorical sense, and much of what she writes speaks to all of us.I bought the book only last night, and so have not read most of it, but it’s jumped to the top of my list!


cathryn hankla galaxies
GALAXIES is a poetry collection published last year. She ended the reading with several selections, including “Galaxy of Virginia History”—both humorous and appalling.


Cathy’s writing often elicits adjectives such as droll, urgent, inventive, graceful, passionate, compassionate, unpredictable, and imaginative. She’s published more than a dozen books of poetry, short stories, novels, and now essays. Choose one and become a fan! (As you can tell, I’m one already.)
cathryn hankla published works
Among my favorites are Learning the Mother Tongue and FORTUNE TELLER MIRACLE FISHCathy is a fabulous storyteller! Both of these collections evoke her Appalachian Mountain roots—vividly, poignantly, and endearingly.


I actually met Susan Hankla first. I won’t go into that now, having recently blogged about Susan twice. It was in one of Susan’s classes that a fellow student suggested I attend a writing workshop at Nimrod Hall. As many of you know, I’ve been returning to Nimrod Hall since 2004, and intend to do so this year as well.


Main building Nimrod Hall
The main building of Nimrod Hall
That is when and where I met Cathy. It was immediately apparent that we have much in common. Besides our shared Appalachian roots, we both have been college professors and chaired our respective departments, albeit her department is English and Creative Writing and mine was Psychology.
writing workshop nimrod hall
Cathy Hankla in our workshop
Cathy conducts helpful and enjoyable writing workshops—which is why I go back year after year. No doubt she is an excellent classroom teacher as well, judging by students of hers who attended last night’s reading. She’s great at both big picture critique and detail editing.
cathryn hankla land between blue moon poorwater
If you are more inclined to novels than short stories, consider these. And  BTW, she’s poetry editor of The Hollins Critic. Bottom line: whatever your preference, give Cathy Hankla a read. Or a listen, if Richmond is so lucky as to get her back!


cathryn hankla returns richmond

Day 12 at Nimrod Hall Writers’ Workshop


Day 12

country path on misty morning at Nimrod Hall, Virginia
A path not walked

The last day at Nimrod is always bittersweet. All the paths not walked. All I won’t see come to fruition–like this rose in the Square House flower box.

blooming rose
Rose coming on

And the naked ladies are just coming on. There will be a huge display, but searching now reveals only spears of varying heights, rather like an asparagus bed in spring. I guess the summer heat here is recent.

Away from here I won’t walk before breakfast. When will I again notice a toad or see a katydid?

But what I’ll miss most is the focus on writing with other writers, discussing ideas, process, and progress–not to mention book recommendations! Of course there is always some of that in my life, but it’s scattered and intermittent.

Nimrod is addictive. One of the writers from last week, Molly Todd, drove over from Richmond for a few more days–and brought her husband!

Author Molly Todd and her husband
Molly Todd and her husband

Except for being the last, it was like every other day. We talked writing before dinner, and after everyone read for five minutes. I read three pages from my new novel, developed this week.

Cathy Hankla, this week’s writer in residence is wonderful. She’s been working her magic here for more than twenty years. Cathy has published eleven books–short stories, novels, and poetry–so far. She’s won numerous prizes and is the Susan Gager Jackson professor of creative writing at Hollins University.

Author Cathy Hankla holding her book at Nimrod Hall Writers' Workshop
Cathy Hankla

Charlotte Morgan, a novelist, is the writer in residence for Week 3, but she’s also the coordinator of the Nimrod writing programs. Anyone who comes during the first two weeks gets a two-fer, for Charlotte gives generously of her insights and support. Her laugh is famous!

Author Charlotte Morgan at Nimrod Hall Writers' Workshop
Charlotte Morgan

And so I’m wrapping up, having just headed back to Square House in the dark that is so much darker here than in the city.

Square House at night, Nimrod Hall Writers' Workshop
Square House at night

Nimrod Hall, established in 1783, has been providing summer respite from everyday stress since 1906. It has been operating as an artist and writer colony for over 25 years. The Nimrod Hall Summer Arts Program is a non-competitive, inspirational environment for artists to create without the distractions of everyday life. The 2015 Writers’ Workshop writers-in-residence are Sheri Reynolds, Cathryn Hankla, and Charlotte G. Morgan


Off to Nimrod Hall 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11