Thursday, March 23rd, at 7:30 PM, Sara Moore Wagner will be reading a series of her poems for the 2023 Prout Chapel Reading Series at Bowling Green State University.  

Sara Moore Wagner is the author of multiple collections including Swan Wife, awarded with the 2021 Cider Press Review Editor’s prize, and Hillbilly Madonna, published by Driftwood Press in 2022. Wagner has also authored two chapbooks: Tumbling After released in March of 2022 and Hooked Through published by Five Oaks Press in 2017. Her work has appeared in several publications such as Sixth Finch, Waxwing, Nimrod, Western Humanities Review, Tar River Poetry, and The Cincinnati Review. Wagner has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times as well as Best of the Net and Best New Poets awards.     

Wagner’s poems explore relationships between mother and child, father and son, and other family ties in Appalachia. Several poems address the opiate crisis that heavily ravaged Appalachia and the entire country. Poems such as “Girlhood Landscape” explore the impermanence of beauty through a young girl waning optimism, stating: “because I want to remember blooming. // Because I think I could just bloom.” These poems also depict moments of trauma associated with miscarriages. Her work incorporates fairy tales and folklore, with several poems devoted to sharpshooter Annie Oakley, myths of Tantalus and Thetis, and Biblical figures in works like “Self Portrait as Judas.” 

In her work entitled “Invasive Species,” published by the Normal School in December 2020, Wagner talks about a nest created in a dated wreath. The relationship of mother/daughter and mother bird/hatchlings seems to blur. Both mothers are “separated […] by a door” from their young. The poem closes with: 

We’re all just waiting to crack open  
or be emptied out, to be forced  
from our homes or windows,  
to destroy what we love  
because we need it,  
because we think  
we’re safe.   

There is a sense here of the complicated necessity of letting our loved ones live their own lives, continuing to love them from a distance. This necessary and natural trajectory of love and how it operates exists in these final lines. Perhaps the complexities of love lead to hurt when love is needed most. The shared habitat of the nest on the house’s door creates all these avenues of focus. 

Poem excerpts appear courtesy of Normal School and Biographical info also from 

–Michael J Morris, MAR