Writers of the Purple Sage is honored to have Katharine Coles, Utah’s current Poet Laureate, as a keynote speaker at this year’s poetry retreat on October 21-22 at Kanab Middle School.  

Coles is serving a five-year appointment by the governor as the state poet laureate. She earned a BA at the University of Washington, an MA at the University of Houston, and a PhD at the University of Utah. Coles is the author of several collections of poetry, two novels and collaboration with visual artist Maureen O’Hara. Her work has been recognized by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Science Foundation, the Utah Arts Council and the Salt Lake City Arts Council.

Coles has directed the University of Utah’s Creative Writing Program; co-directed the Utah Symposium in Science and Literature and served as series editor for the University of Utah Press’s Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Book Award. Coles is known for her intelligent verse bridging science and literature.  She writes passionately about topics as wide ranging as natural science, love and the environment.

In a tribute written for Coles’ most recent book of poetry entitled Fault, renowned novelist Melanie Rae Thon stated, “No matter how dangerous the world becomes, Katharine Coles lights every line with wonder, and with love.”

For more information about this year’s Writers of the Purple Sage, visit http://www.cebakanecounty.org or call Kelly Stowell at (435) 899-0443. 



By Katharine Coles

At the feeder finches scatter, then,

Inches over the house, dragging their shadows,

Two hawks sweep down into the canyon,

Falling, ignoring paralyzed rabbit and vole,

Wings pitched like sails to the wind, holding,

Down to the crux where day’s pooled heat begins

Its updraft, lifted by evening cool—


The hawks, also, lifted.  If I wait

They will spiral out of that deep cleft,

Trimming treetop and cliff face as they loop

Wider, taking what can be only pleasure,

Bodies held between their wings outstretched,

Back into open sky, where it’s only afternoon,


Night not even a thought–only sun–and all

They do to rise is to hold still.