Wipf & Stock, 2020
Named an August 2020 “Must-Read” by The Millions.
“[Hankins] shuns the vacuous bourgeois abstractions that lately pass for ‘spirituality’ and recognizes the awful gulf between the word and the thing. Doubt, faith, language, and embodiment are of a piece for Hankins.” –Brian Volck, “Close Reading”: The Slant Books Blog
“Hankins considers the paradoxes of holiness in this new collection, his questions often focused on our distance from the divine. […] Hankins’s narrative voice reaches toward that imperceptible but desirous bridge between mortal and immortal, temporary and eternal.” –Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions
“Luke Hankins is in conversation with numinous disbelief. […] Maybe Hankins is writing towards joy, but I don’t feel that in these poems. I sense something equally elusive and less certain.” –Alina Stefanescu, “On the Seawall”
“‘Out of nothingness / a new life. / I cannot say how.’ In Luke Hankins’ Radiant Obstacles, hibiscus and hummingbirds, cardinals and pear trees, human beings (and their prayers and anguish) keep emerging from and returning to the vapor. These luminous poems meditate on the divine; on the gap between language and the object-world; on the mind and the body and each of their constraints and vast potentialities. Hankins has made ‘a house for an idea about beauty’—may we each visit its bewilderment, terror, and solace.” –Nomi Stone
“‘It appears that a mistake has been made. / We are currently stationed in existence,’ Luke Hankins declares. Our exile into Being and into ‘where Eden once stood, in the ruins,’ becomes for Hankins the source of stunning meditations on metaphysics, faith, and the apparent obstacles to belief that stand as ‘radiant obstacles’ in our path—even the obstacles to the divine leading us into the radiance of hard-won affirmation. The ex of ex nihilo becomes the way out of spiritual nothingness into the ecstatic celebration of the body and the physical world, a nothingness negated through a hard-fought battle. ‘I could not presume to know the Maker’s mind, / but I know something of my own— / I could not bear / to make such magnificent and fleeting things,’ Hankins writes. Yet, in these poems, he has: become, that is, a maker of poems about that fleetingness, poems embued with a beauty whose radiance dispels the very darkness they illuminate.” –Bruce Beasley
“Radiant Obstacles is a book alive with paradox and mystery. ‘I’ve made the mistake / of trying to grasp each strand / of the world’s complexity’ Hankins writes, and the poetry he delivers stretches toward something eternally beyond reach. These are poems that long to hear the earth speak, while knowing that it won’t. They admire beauty, even as it dissipates and falls. They call out to the divine, and return to us having transformed metaphysical yearning into a deeply resonant art.” –Matthew Olzmann
In his second poetry collection, Luke Hankins continues to engage profound questions of being and the nature of human experience in the aftermath of a break with the fundamentalist religion of his upbringing. Big ideas are not considered off-limits in these poems, yet the poems remain grounded in daily life and language. From theological and philosophical inquiries, to spare meditations on moments of sensory intensity, the poems in Radiant Obstacles are both wide-ranging and finely honed.
translations from the French of Stella Vinitchi Radulescu
Seagull Books, 2019
Featured in a New York Times Book Review preview of 2019 books from around the world.
Named a February 2019 “Must-Read” by The Millions.
“Like seashells with light shining through, these poems by Stella Vinitchi Radulescu express the tough fragility of being; in his lucid translation, Luke Hankins mirrors perfectly their deftness and their strength.” –Hoyt Rogers
“[Radulescu] lived during the communist regime in Romania and brings her sense of dread and survival into a meditative journal. […] These are patient observations and internal monologues—they speak of a larger presence—the competing realities of a life limited in freedom except for the imagination and the pen.” –Grace Cavalieri, The Washington Independent Review of Books
“That Radulescu is working between risk and refuge as well as across three languages makes her work prolific and ambitious; that the body of work that arises from such ambition points to the thresholds of meaning […] marks the endeavor as a sobering one.” –José Angel Araguz, Poetry International
Stella Vinitchi Radulescu’s poetry dwells in spaces of paradox, seeking out the words, metaphors, and images that capture both the peaceful stillness of snow and the desperate cry of human experience. A Cry in the Snow and Other Poems often draws on these two fertile tropes: the beauty of nature and the power and limitations of language. A trilingual poet who has published in French, English, and her native Romanian, Radulescu seeks to harness the elemental aspects of human experience, working between language and the mysterious power of silence. Combining poems from two French-language collections, Un Cri dans la neige (A Cry in the Snow) and a poetic prose sequence, Journal aux yeux fermés (Journal with Closed Eyes), this collection presents the distinctive and powerful French poems of Stella Vinitchi Radulescu to an English-language readership for the first time.
THE WORK OF CREATION:
Wipf & Stock, 2016
“This collection is tuned to the pitch of listening—listening with fine intelligence as Hankins explores the nuances of poetry, culture, and history: the soul.” –Claire Bateman
“In his generous and illuminating volume of prose, The Work of Creation, Luke Hankins demonstrates how much of poetry and the maturation of our engagement with it rely upon a power to contain opposites, particularly as they problematize our historical moment. With the wide-angle of a theorist and the jeweler’s monocle of a close reader, the author here sets out to revalidate and reposition the poet’s work as part of a more fundamental set of contemporary challenges: to seek the genuine in the fractured, divine union in uncertainty, magnanimity in despair—and thus to forge greater intimacies among aesthetics, ethics, and psychology. In praise of the devotional, the book honors a radiance of doubt that eschews both easy ironies and dogmatic polemics. The subtext here is gratitude, a love of work, and a deepening summons to the complexity of art as bound to the complexity of our condition. A beautiful book.” –Bruce Bond
“In his newest book, The Work of Creation: Selected Prose, poet, editor, translator, and literary critic Luke Hankins ‘continue[s] to work out’ not his ‘salvation with fear and trembling,’ but the very process and scope of creation itself as it applies to the aesthetic, ethical, and spiritual. The book spans Hankins’s many roles as writer-scholar. It is precisely this combination of insightful scholarly attention and boldly personal meditations that makes this collection a ‘work of creation.’” –Marjorie Maddox Hafer, Anglican Theological Review
Wipf & Stock, 2011
“There is great compassion in these poems, most especially for the vicissitudes of childhood, when the mystery of life is first unfolding. But Hankins understands that ‘there are few words left sufficient to this world’ to explain or console or lift up as praise, and that even the loveliest poem may prove a weak devotion. Still, Hankins does not give in to uncertainty or despair. Rather, in masterfully wrought poems, he exhorts us to ‘abandon ideas and concepts of beauty’ and ‘be part of it,’ a natural and blessed part of life’s great dance. In the beautiful poem ‘Wisteria,’ the poet convinces us that it is in fact possible to give oneself over to the mysterious ‘sweetening sun,’ like a vine-wrapped tree that becomes ‘what rises through it.’ Such brave surrender is, I think, what gives these heartfelt poems their clarity, power, and grace.” –Richard Jones
“It is appropriate to call Luke Hankins’ powerful, surprising first collection of poems, Weak Devotions, ‘confessional,’ but with an emphasis on the original religious sense of the word. These poems are not in any way self-absorbed or self-pitying, but, like in the Confessions of Saint Augustine and Rousseau, they are written out of a commitment to an ideal of self-scrutiny. These poems are not ‘clever’: although their tonal range is excitingly broad, including Miltonic high diction, the colloquial immediacy of Beat poetry, and the conversational clarity of Elizabeth Bishop, one tone which is not heard in them is irony. They are honest. Selfhood is not dramatized in narcissistic display, but is present everywhere in language-acts of integrity. These poems are decisive, grounded in particulars of place, experience and intellect, and courageously engaging of the reader, who is addressed as a fellow human being trying, like the poet, to live well, and looking for the imagination for help with that task. These poems do help.” –Christopher Davis, Connotation Press
“Luke Hankins’ poetry shimmers with intellect and craft. However, what is most surprising about it, especially in our time, is that it wrestles with the issues Donne, Herbert, Hopkins, Vassar Miller, and countless others also found worthy of their most impassioned work. […] But one need not be religious to be moved by poetry as finely wrought as is found in his brilliant title poem and elsewhere in this book.” –John Wood
POEMS OF DEVOTION:
AN ANTHOLOGY OF RECENT POETS
Wipf & Stock, 2012
“”[A] rich, varied anthology of devotional poetry. [. . .] One returns to the poems again and again with pleasure, appreciation, and heightened understanding. Hankins, poet and editor, prepared a fine feast.” –Christianity & Literature
“The phrase ‘contemporary devotional poetry’ is more likely to conjure images of treacly holiday greeting cards than literature of the highest order. But this anthology, on the contrary, bears witness to the perennial human desire to adore—and to question, Job-like—the Almighty. This is a generous and inclusive selection, containing not only modern masters but also emerging voices. Above all, it is a reminder that the best writing is, in the end, an offering to the Mystery.” –Gregory Wolfe, editor of Image
“Hankins makes a determined, refreshingly testy attempt to define what devotional poetry is, and what it is not, in an introductory essay […]. If we allow ourselves for the moment to set aside that concern for precision, we can focus instead on this collection’s central accomplishment: it shows in no uncertain terms that devotional poetry continued throughout the 20th century and into the 21st […]. […] Even more exciting, however, is a second impression fully felt only toward the end of the book—that devotional poetry not only abides in the present century but is positively thriving these days, showing promise for the future. […] Poems of Devotion bears an exciting message, then, and one that any anthology that includes very current work would covet: ‘Times are good.’ Hankins ends his collection on a high note as well, remarking in that concluding interview, ‘We make because we are made. We are made because God loves to make. We are the result of the pleasurable work of the divine.’ That is beautifully said, and for readers who think so, too, they would do well to seek out Hankins’ own collection of poetry, Weak Devotions, recently released.” –Brett Foster, Books & Culture
I WAS AFRAID OF VOWELS…THEIR PALENESS
poems translated from the French of Stella Vinitchi Radulescu
Q Avenue Press, 2011
limited edition chapbook, out of print
“This selection of Radulescu’s poems seems to require translation as a fulfillment of its own project, one that claims the vigor of language as image, a synesthetic trope that appears as early as the first poem with ‘it’s not a word not yet this vapor / escaping my mouth’ and elsewhere: ‘we will taste what is written / on these lips.’ But the elements of language do not merely populate the poems—enriching if not confusing the readers’ senses—their inclusion allows Radulescu to speak to the transience of language, the ways in which denotation dissolves, and each speaker, and perhaps reader, moves into words, the hard rigid shells we inhabit with meaning.” –Emilia Phillips, Blackbird