Sara Henning

Sara Henning (Poetry) | Nacogdoches, TX

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Sara Henning is the author of A Sweeter Water (2013), her debut collection of poetry, as well as two chapbooks, Garden Effigies (2015) and To Speak of Dahlias (2012). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Quarterly West, Witness, Green Mountains Review, Crab Orchard Review, and RHINO. Winner of the 2015 Crazyhorse Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize, she is a visiting assistant professor of English at Stephen F. Austin State University and serves as an associate editor of Sundress Publications.


A Sweeter Water (Lavender Ink, 2013). Poetry.


Blurbs, Press & Reviews

“An always-already absent father lost to suicide. A mother’s fragile mask shattered by betrayal. A daughter seeking a name and a face. In Sara Henning’s debut collection, these poems fiercely sing back love in all of its various incarnations from deep within the red clay chambers of a familial ground zero—even as love reveals itself to be sweet mirage, brutal illusion, or a cruel evanescence that must be relinquished into elegy. In piercingly gorgeous lyrics that stun us with both ruthlessness and beauty, Henning’s poems painstakingly climb their way up from the site of unspeakable loss—haunted by the footsteps of ghosts, and relentlessly interrogating the ontological complexities of naming, belonging, embodiment, and spirit. With clarity and compassion, these poems turn back and look directly into what hurts, singing us all into the forgiveness of a sweeter water.”
—Lee Ann Roripaugh, Author of On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year

“In these poems, the familiar haunts, embodies strangeness, shimmers with the uncanny. The most tender touch is dangerous. To light the night, one sets a wasps’ nest ablaze. Here, anger transmutes to beauty. Here, the beautiful enthralls, lures, is a trap. The Italian painter, Giorgio Morandi, says, “I believe that nothing can be more abstract, more unreal, than what we actually see.” The poems in Sara Henning’s powerful debut collection confirm Morandi’s insight.”
—Eric Pankey, author of The Pear As One Example

“Henning rides the ridge between escape-from and longing-after, marrying an overflowing brain with an animal whimper. All of this makes her a new artist of that very old subject: Love. What is A Sweeter Water but a particularly fresh, nuanced, and troubled love song? The honesty, novelty, and grace which Henning brings to this task makes her a poet who deserves to be read and reread.”
—Kate Savage, Sugar House Review

“Sara Henning’s A Sweeter Water is a ciphering of grieving. The book’s opening poem is an introduction to loss and it foreshadows the suicide of the speaker’s father. But like the many dahlias that pervade these poems, loss is a multi-faceted, motivating current. A Sweeter Water ruminates on identity and healing through distance, and Henning’s mix of formal, informal, and prose poems creates a remarkable map of one woman’s experiences.”
—Lauren Gordon, the Collagist

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