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About this poet

On December 6, 1962, Julia Spicher Kasdorf was born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. She was educated at Goshen College and New York University.

Her books of poetry include Eve's Striptease (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998) and Sleeping Preacher (1992), which received the 1991 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and the Great Lakes Colleges Award for New Writing in 1993.

She is also the author of the biography Fixing Tradition: Joseph W. Yoder, Amish American (2003) and The Body and the Book: Writing from a Mennonite Life, 1991-1999 (2001), which won the Book of the Year Award from the Modern Language Association's Conference on Christianity and Literature. With Michael Tyrell, she edited the anthology Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn (2007).

Her work has been described by the poet Eamon Grennan as "Crosshatched by body, spirit, and the relation between them; animated by bright instinctive exchanges between carnal and religious zones of experience; driven by an honest, explicitly female consciousness of what 'animal' and 'soul' might mean."

She currently teaches creative writing and women's studies at Pennsylvania State University.

A Family History

Julia Spicher Kasdorf, 1962
At dusk the girl who will become my mom
must trudge through the snow, her legs
cold under skirts, a bandanna tight on her braids.
In the henhouse, a klook pecks her chapped hand
as she pulls a warm egg from under its breast.
This girl will always hate hens, 
and she already knows she won't marry a farmer.
In a dim barn, my father, a boy, forks hay
under the holsteins' steaming noses.
They sway on their hooves and swat dangerous tails,
but he is thinking of snow, how it blows
across the gray pond scribbled with skate tracks,
of the small blaze on its shore, and the boys
in black coats who skate hand-in-hand
round and round, building up speed
until the leader cracks that whip
of mittens and arms, and it jerks around
fast, flinging off the last boy.
He'd be that one--flung like a spark
trailing only his scarf.

From Sleeping Preacher by Julia Kasdorf. Copyright © 1992 by Julia Kasdorf. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15261. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

From Sleeping Preacher by Julia Kasdorf. Copyright © 1992 by Julia Kasdorf. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15261. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Julia Spicher Kasdorf

Julia Spicher Kasdorf

Born in 1962, Julia Spicher Kasdorf is the author of several collections of poetry and received the 1991 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize for her book Sleeping Preacher

by this poet

poem
We keep our quilts in closets and do not dance.
We hoe thistles along fence rows for fear
we may not be perfect as our Heavenly Father.
We clean up his disasters. No one has to
call; we just show up in the wake of tornadoes
with hammers, after floods with buckets.
Like Jesus, the servant, we wash each other's
poem
Among the first we learn is good-bye, 
your tiny wrist between Dad's forefinger 
and thumb forced to wave bye-bye to Mom, 
whose hand sails brightly behind a windshield. 
Then it's done to make us follow:
in a crowded mall, a woman waves, "Bye, 
we're leaving," and her son stands firm 
sobbing, until at last he