A Collection of Artistic Poetry
In Empty Room with Light, Ann Hostetler’s first collection of poems, she draws on her training as a visual artist to articulate moments of illumination in everyday life. She pulls from a rich collection of memories to create poems that all have a distinctive voice and image, showcasing things like the beauty of her Amish Aunt’s flower garden and the psychedelic swirls on her own painted toes.
Hostetler organizes her poems in a series of frames named after different forms of visual display, such as “Family Album,” “Exhibitions,” and “En Plein Air.” Each section of the book illuminates a different facet of her journey through life, and offers a sense of connection to the reader through a beautification of the mundane.
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Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:
“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
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