No matter where I am, whether I’m living there or just visiting, I have a rule: once I hear about a lit reading, I try to attend if at all possible. You just never know what you’re going to find. Sure, it’s often bad spoken word or cutesy, self-aggrandizing nonsense; sometimes, though, you’re introduced to the work of someone who’s so damn good, hearing them is like winning a contest or falling in love.

A little more context: those who have read my poetry books know that I have a few birth defects that can cause me a great deal of pain from time to time. As it happens, I was attending one particular reading when my legs decided to act up. There weren’t any seats available in the venue (a good sign), so I was standing there in such discomfort that I was genuinely worried my legs would give out and I’d collapse. I’m sure I could have explained the situation and asked someone to give up their seat, but I’m also very self-conscious (and a bit old school). So instead, I decided to just stay as long as I could handle it, then quietly slip away.

Then, Catherine Hodges took the stage.

I didn’t know her yet, wasn’t familiar with her work, but she was barely halfway through her first poem when I realized there was absolutely no way I was skipping out on some of the best poetry I’d heard in years. Catherine’s stuff is amazing, meticulously crafted but brimming with wit and vulnerability. After the reading, I introduced myself to her and even though I probably had the tired, strained smile of a crazy person, she was friendly and polite, and immediately struck me as genuine (a rare thing in this business). I talked to her a little bit about Atticus Review, and invited her to send something our way.

Well, a few months later, here we are, and I’m confident that once you read her stuff—if you haven’t already seen her work elsewhere, as I should have—I think you’ll understand how happy it makes me to know that the poetry world has someone like Catherine Hodges in it. We also have a special treat this month: Catherine supplied audio files of her reading her poems, with musical accompaniment by her husband, cellist Rob Hodges. Enjoy!



Soft Shoulder

Soft Shoulder, A Poem by Catherine Abbey Hodges


Title Envy Cento

Title Envy Cento, a poem by Catherine Abbey Hodges


For My Mother, Dying

For My Mother, Dying, a poem by Catherine Abbey Hodges


I Heart You

I Heart You, a poem by Catherine Abbey Hodges


Goodbye Thistle

Goodbye, Thistle, a poem by Catherine Abbey Hodges


Catherine Hodges Poetry FeatureCatherine Abbey Hodges’s most recent collection of poems is Raft of Days. Dan Gerber selected her first full-length collection, Instead of Sadness, as winner of the 2015 Barry Spacks Poetry Prize from Gunpowder Press. Her poems have appeared widely and been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Verse Daily. Co-coordinator of California Poets in the Schools for Tulare County, Catherine collaborates with her husband, cellist Rob Hodges, and was named 2017 faculty of the year at Porterville College, where her students keep her awake and amazed.

For photo credits, click through to the poem.