Bookcover: The Self as Constellation

The Self as Constellation

vol. 9: Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry

Jeanine Hathaway — author. 
  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2001
Subject: Poetry

April, 2002








About Hathaway's The Self as Constellation

The way we construct our selves—as the ancients created meaningful shapes from the random sparkles of the stars at night—is the theme and structural principle of this collection of poems. In writing them, Jeanine Hathaway assumed the constellations of Eldest Child, Ex-Nun, Former Wife, Single Mother, Writer, Teacher, and Pilgrim. Their most notable aspect is their exploration of spirituality, the awe and ambivalence that characterize every significant relationship, whether it be with God, family, friends, invented and historical figures, or oneself.

As a nun I gave my twenties to God
and assumed the character of baptism
unmistakably inside out which is to say
on the bell sleeve of that wedding white
habit which I still wear in dreams
I can’t help but remember.

—from “Looking Both Ways”

“This is a collection to be read in sequence because the continuity is powerful and persuasive. If we are attentive readers, we end like the nuns in the storm cellar ‘not knowing whether we’ve been struck by lightning or by love.’” –—Madeline DeFrees, judge

About the Author

JEANINE HATHAWAY entered the Dominican order in 1963. After nine years she left the convent, received an MFA from Bowling Green State University, married, and had a daughter. She has been teaching literature and writing at Wichita State University in Kansas since 1974. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.

The Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry is awarded annually to a previously unpublished collection of poetry. The winner receives $1,000 and publication by the University of North Texas Press. Selection is made by a distinguished poet.

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