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Binding: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-57131-449-9
Pages: 88
Publish Date: February 2013
Genre: Poetry



BY Eric Pankey

His arresting ninth collection of poems, Eric Pankey’s Trace locates itself at a threshold between faith and doubt—between the visible and the invisible, the say-able and the ineffable, the physical and the metaphysical. Also a map of the poet’s journey into a deep depression, these poems confront one man’s struggle to overcome depression’s smothering weight and presence. And with remarkable clarity and complexity, Trace charts the poet’s attempt to be inspired, to breathe again, to give breath and life to words.

Ever solemn, ever existential, Pankey’s poems find us at our most vulnerable, the moment when we as humans—believers and nonbelievers alike—must ultimately pause to question the uncertain fate of our souls.



• Read an interview with Eric Pankey, in which he talks about being struck wordless by depression, teaching as a blessing, and memory’s slippery habit.
• A few speculative notes on the intersection of poetry and the sacred.
• Watch the motionpoem for “Cogitatio Mortis”:

“In this age of both religious extremism and cynical atheism, Eric Pankey’s poems gleam with authenticity.”

—Chase Twichell





A new collection from one of America's most acclaimed contemporary poets exploring the intersections between art, religion, and our daily life.
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Editorial ReviewGoodreads Review

"Pankey’s ninth collection follows the poet into the hushed 'gray dawn' of depression as he searches, often in vain, for God, and for faith in nature and himself. Where Pankey goes looking for the heavens he most often finds his own body, or a trace of a myth in nature that helps him challenge the old stories."

Publishers Weekly

“Tracing the spiritual as he senses it move through the natural world, the poet reminds us again and again that to ‘occupy a space is to shape it,’ and the shaping of experience becomes finally the shaping of the page in language brilliantly wrought.”

—Claudia Emerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Late Wife

“In this age of both religious extremism and cynical atheism, Eric Pankey’s poems gleam with authenticity. In language that is always elegant, complex, and rigorously truthful, he transfixes us with glimpses of what we can never fully know. Trace is a brilliant furthering of this mission.”

—Chase Twichell, author of Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems

“Imbued with stark lyricism, Eric Pankey’s new poems are marvelous palimpsests on the struggles of faith.”

—Arthur Sze, author of Quipu and The Ginkgo Light

“Beauty-struck, dark with yearning, melancholy, and unlooked-for, salvific joy, these new poems extend Pankey’s already capacious and original vision of the God-hungry, remnant self, and thus the lyric poem itself, in inimitably haunted and haunting ways.”

—Lisa Russ Spaar, author of Vanitas, Rough and Satin Cash

Pankey's language is beautiful and spare and he constantly surprises with profound lines."

—C.L. Bledsoe, Coal Hill Review


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Eric Pankey

Eric Pankey is currently Professor of English and Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University. Trace is his ninth collection of poetry.

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AWP Reading & Conversation with Eric Pankey, Linda Hoga

Sponsored by Minneapolis Publishers Milkweed Editions,

Minneapolis is known in the literary world as home to Coffee House Press, Graywolf Press, and Milkweed Editions, three of the best independent publishers in the country. They are long respected for their commitment to poetry. To highlight that commitment, Coffee House, Graywolf, and Milkweed are proud to present a reading by award-winning poets Linda Hogan, Eric Pankey, and Mary Szybist. Each will read from their work, and then will be in conversation, introduced and moderated by Rob Casper.

* * *


Robert Casper is the head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. He previously worked as the membership director at the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, where he also served as the magazine member on the board of directors. He is also the founding publisher of jubilat, a literary magazine showcasing contemporary American poetry.


Eric Pankey is the author of ten collections of poetry, most recently Trace and Dismantling the Angel (Milkweed). His work has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University.

Linda Hogan, the author of over sixteen books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and performances, including People of the Whale, a novel; The Woman Who Watches Over the World, a memoir; and Dark. Sweet.: New & Selected Poems. She has received a Lannan Literary Award, and NEA and Guggenheim fellowships.

Mary Szybist's most recent book is Incarnadine, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry. A 2014 Guggenheim fellow, she teaches at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

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