Winner of the 2020 Paraclete Poetry Prize, Litany of Flights is a luminous examination of the journey of the soul, from moments of loss to moments of incandescent transformation. These poems remind us to behold the extraordinary in the ordinary, and that the secret workings of the divine occur even through the difficult: “the painful paring of your hollow bones has made you light.” Drawing on the beauty of the natural world, the devastating effects of drought and wildfires, tender moments of daily experience, and lessons of the saints, the poet creates a landscape of light and darkness, with unexpected turns into divine presence and absence. Through a spiral of red-tailed hawks, the nest of a mourning dove, the parting of waters, and the ripeness of a persimmon, this shimmering collection invites the reader to singular and transfiguring flight.
Litany of Flights (from the forthcoming collection)
First, the winged movement, steady, forward. Scrub jays in flitting progress, hawks in predator glide, a ringing up, a knife-sharp slope
down. Second, the effortless type, wind-splayed, motionless pinions in thermal recline, as the Psalmist says, blessings breeze his love even
in sleep. Third, the hungry, against the gale, the destination singular and the sun dipping crimson. Fourth, the metallic, business or pleasure.
Fifth, the whirring kind, all hummingbird. A picnic, apples and chocolate in the garden with roses, both flower and child. You miss it when it’s gone.
Sixth, a baffling flight of stairs, winding upward, passage and yet vehicle, spiraling to unseen landings—hope courses in the kaleidoscopic lights.
Seventh, soar to the sun. Eighth, melt in bitter hubris. You know the story. Ninth, escape. A flight out of Egypt, a path through the sea cleared by
divine hand. The times you ran, the times you were left behind in lament. Tenth, only rotting in the belly of a whale tames your stubborn turn from
Nineveh. Eleventh, flights of despair and of yearning, two sides of one letting go, hard-earned release back into the wild, unbound by expectation,
featherlike. Twelfth, in a moment, caught up high by the Beloved, the one making all things work together, wings, body, arch, air—caught up, like the
Shulamite bride, to regions beyond aeronautical wisdom, transported in joy. See, he says, the painful paring of your hollow bones has made you light.
About the Author
Laura Reece Hogan is the award-winning author of the poetry chapbook O Garden-Dweller (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and the nonfiction spiritual theology book I Live, No Longer I (Wipf & Stock, 2017). She is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, and one of ten poets featured in the anthology In a Strange Land (Cascade Books, 2019). Her poems can be found in America, First Things, The Christian Century, The Cresset, The Windhover, Dappled Things, Anglican Theological Review, Whale Road Review, and other publications. Laura earned a J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, and an M.A. in theology from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California. She is a professed Third Order Carmelite. She can be found online at www.laurareecehogan.com.
“Litany of Flights turns its gaze to the natural world and to the heightened sacramental reality with which, as Hopkins puts it, all the created order is charged. At every turn, these mysteries are grounded in the sensory details of the world we apprehend, tree, sun, and star, squirrel and deer, fruit and flower, hawk and dove.” —Sally Thomas, author of Motherland
“Hogan’s collection is lush with rivers, moonlight, and flowers. It is also sharp with scrub brush, lightning, and flame. Like the Scripture she draws from, her poems both comfort and unsettle with fierce imagery: ‘You wait for me to discover your love among the leaves and thorns...I join/your written roses in swaying dance, in blood-red bloom of belonging.’ Her poems are an invitation directly into the heart of this swaying dance. This is a debut that will draw you into wonder without letting go.” —Tania Runyan, author of What Will Soon Take Place
“Combines the rich language of Gerard Manley Hopkins with the fierce passion of Elizabeth Barrett Browning to become a twenty-first-century singer of the ancient Song of Songs. A new, loving, musical voice that you will want to hear and incorporate into your prayers.” —Paul J. Willis, author of Deer at Twilight: Poems from the North Cascades
“Some poets say their poems are borne in them; some believe poems come through: that the writer is merely the vessel. Such poets often take less credit for that voice of which they are the vehicle. These are the poets who give thanks and who praise. They come straight out of the mystical tradition, locked in a dance with the music and lyricism of St. Francis, Hopkins, St. John of the Cross, Herbert, Rumi, and Kabir. Laura Reece Hogan adds her name to this tradition in Litany of Flights. She is a true poet, and this is a sensational debut.” —David Keplinger, author of The Long Answer: New and Selected Poems
“Hogan never yearns to escape this world, or the hurt and pain of living in it—rather her poems yearn to enter the world ever more deeply. What links them is their posture of prayer: the work of paring away what is nonessential in the speaker until, hollowed, like the bones of birds, she is light enough for flight.” —Robert Cording, author of Walking with Ruskin, and Professor Emeritus at College of the Holy Cross
“It is a rare privilege these days to dive into a poetry collection and find that the word that keeps reverberating in your ear is joy: from ‘vats of joy’ to ‘cascades of joy,’ from ‘living in joy’ to ‘the joy in spilling praise.’ Yet, joy does not come easy in Litany of Flights, for there are ‘clefts of night’ and ‘barren months,’ a church that burns, its cross ‘tumbling into the nave like a sparkler.’ Elsewhere, longing is a ‘grounded bird’ that ‘thrashes against metal.’ But the longing that animates this exquisite collection is for the One Who never fails, Who comes in cloud and burning bush, Who consumes and fulfills. And Laura Hogan knows this, viscerally. No wonder her poetry brims with joy; she knows what it is to be a creature in love with her Creator, thus able to offer—credibly—joy as the ‘full flower of love.’” —Sofia Starnes, former Virginia Poet Laureate, author of The Consequence of Moonlight