“A Poet at the Top of His Form”: Hollins Professor’s Newest Collection Is Published

Thorpe Moeckel

The often lost and surprising senses of the world and of words are exhumed in According to Sand, the new volume of poems by Thorpe Moeckel, associate professor of English and director of the Jackson Center for Creative Writing at Hollins University.

Mercer University Press, the book’s publisher, calls According to Sand “an aching, wryly joyous collection that embodies the erosive and porous qualities of sand and invites us to recognize how we might remain among the remains, settling, shifting, filtering, and surviving. While ranging from creekbanks to hummocks, from barrier islands to ridges and hollers (from the Kansas River to West Penobscot Bay, to the Edisto, to various tributaries of the New and the James, the Neuse and the Savannah), these creaturely poems track the abundant and the minimal, singing (in praise and loss) the uncanniness of existence.”

Chris Dombrowski, acclaimed author of The River You Touch, praises Moeckel and According to Sand. “I have been an admirer of Thorpe Moeckel’s poems for many years, searching them out as one looks forAccording to Sand Book Cover morels or thimbleberries in the woods, but here, in the brilliant According to Sand, is a book to subsist on. Line by supremely original line, it illuminates – and is illuminated by – ‘the fleeting infinities’ of the natural world, of which we are a minuscule (see: sand grain) but luminous part. Moeckel is an utterly necessary poet at the top of his form, as fully manifested as a trillium in full bloom.”

Raised in Atlanta, Moeckel has taught in the writing program at Hollins since 2005. His first book of poems, Odd Botany, won the Gerald Cable Book Award in 2000, as well as the George Garrett Award for New Writing from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. In subsequent poetry books, Making a Map of the River, Venison, and Arcadia Road, as well as two nonfiction books, Watershed Days and Down by the Eno, Down by the Haw, Moeckel has stayed close to the woods and rivers of the Appalachians while exploring a variety of themes.

Moeckel’s work has been widely anthologized and has appeared in many journals and magazines, among them Field, Open City, The Antioch Review, Poetry Daily, Taproot, Orion, Poetry, The Southern Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review.