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Empty Room with Light
Ann Hostetler

Summary: In her first full-length collection, Empty Room with Light, Ann Hostetler draws on her training as a visual artist as she seeks to articulate moments of illumination in everyday life. The collection is structured by a series of frames playfully named after different forms of visual display, such as "Family Album," "Exhibitions," and "En Plein Air." A rich and varied palette of images—from the severe beauty of her Amish aunt’s flower garden to the psychedelic swirls on her own painted toes—both lends Hostetler’s work a distinctive voice and offers readers many points of connection. Each section of the book illuminates a different facet of the poet’s journey through life.

Comment: “Hostetler turns family and its daily routines into poetry high mass, with all the garments, incense, and sensuality that often accompany ritual. Here a daughter traces the surface of her mother’s bathwater with her fingertips; a son in blue nylon shorts and high tops helps iron napkins that turn to prayer flags. With precise imagery and language Hostetler’s poems reach into the rush and plenty of family, making luminaries out of all.”
—Susan Firer

“These poems beautifully enact the passing of family history and ritual from generation to generation, recording for us the recurrent journeys we often take between joy and sorrow, and affirming what can stand when all else falls--the love that ties us to our lives and to each other. Ann Hostetler has written a strong and moving first book.”
—Gregory Djanikian

”Hostetler combines her painter's eye with a sensitivity to language informed by her work as a literary scholar. Her poems are filled with images of the world and populated with delightfully willful beings caught in the act of making lives with whatever is at hand. I appreciate the honest way this work traces the impatient negotiations of a Baby Boomer's life--admitting its fast food and undone laundry, celebrating family's small but significant joys, all the while, never relenting her utterance. In one poem, she says, ‘I want you to know I was there,/ a soul on a journey.’ And we do. “
--Julia Kasdorf

Market: Anyone who loves poetry that combines careful crafting with accessibility and warmth.

Shelving: Poetry; Anabaptist-Mennonite literature. BISAC: Poetry; RTM: 640 Poetry

Excerpts: Follow this link to see Empty Room with Light poems published in DreamSeeker Magazine.

The Author: Ann Hostetler, Goshen, Indiana, is editor of A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry (Univ. of Iowa Press). Her poems and essays have appeared in many journals and magazines. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Goshen College, where she is Associate Professor of English. She has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University School of Milwaukee and received an award from the Wisconsin Art Board.

Publisher: Pandora Press U.S. (the original name of Cascadia Publishing House)
Imprint: DreamSeeker Books
Copublisher: Herald Press, Scottdale, PA
Publication date: November 30, 2002 (copies available now)
Pages: 100
Format: 5.5 x 8.5 trade paper
Prices: $12.95 US, $18.95 Can.
ISBN: 1-931038-10-4

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Copyright 2002 by Cascadia Publishing House (the new name of Pandora Press U.S.)