You are here:
English alumnus, Katherine Bode-Lang, has won a major American first book prize for her first book of poetry

English alumnus, Katherine Bode-Lang, has won a major American first book prize for her first book of poetry

The 2014 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize has been awarded to Katherine Bode-Lang, a graduate of Penn State’s creative writing MFA program (2007). Bode-Lang’s manuscript, The Reformation, was chosen by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Stephen Dunn and is being released this month. A book launch at Webster’s Bookstore is planned for October 18 at 5 PM. Bode-Lang will also be reading at the Bellefonte Art Museum on October 17 at 7:30 PM and the Palmer Art Museum on November 5. Details at

From Poems to PowerPoints

Bode-Lang, who previously taught in the English Department as a Lecturer, joined the Office for Research Protections as an IT Trainer this July. Prior to this, she was assistant director of the Methodology Center in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development for four years. In an interview with the blog MFA Day Job, Bode-Lang says, “I’m fortunate to have had very open-minded supervisors. That is, people who were willing to see my potential, not just my poetry degree.”

Advance Praise for The Reformation

In his introduction to the book, Stephen Dunn writes, “One of the classic tricks of actors is when you want to get the attention of your audience, you lower, not raise, your voice. Katherine Bode-Lang’s work is not a trick–her lowered voice kept attracting me.”

Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Penn State Professor of English and Women’s Studies:Katherine Bode-Lang writes with the rational mind of Calvin, the passionate heart of Luther, and the bravery of her own body.  Driven by difficulty and dissent, haunted by ‘all the small/openings for death,’ her lines turn gorgeous and furious, intelligent and belligerent, witty and wise.  This poet abhors a lie, and by insisting on the truth of her own experience, she finds ways to reform the old stories of family, faith, sex, and most of all, love.  I cannot remember reading a first book as painfully honest and beautiful as this.”

Robin Becker, Penn State Liberal Arts Research Professor of English and Women’s Studies: “’Raised under the hand of Calvin,’ the speaker in these poems achieves her own form of grace, writing directly of the female body and learning to trust her own instincts. She wrestles with self-definition— ‘I am my mother’s straight chair’ and ‘I am my father’s favorite hymn’— to reveal potent family legacies.  ‘Wanting everything to survive,’ the narrator learns ‘what to sacrifice,’ revealing, for readers, one woman’s path through contradiction and tradition.”­


October 18 Book launch at Webster’s Bookstore and Café, 5 PM

Paperback $15.00

ISBN 978-0-97189-819-6



Katherine Bode-Lang,

Elizabeth Scanlon, American Poetry Review,


About the Author

Katherine Bode-Lang was born and raised in western Michigan. Her chapbook, Spring Melt (Seven Kitchens Press), placed second in the 2008 Keystone Chapbook Contest and earned the New England Poetry Club’s Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award. She has published in numerous journals, including The American Poetry ReviewThe Cincinnati ReviewBeloit Poetry Journal, Tupelo Quarterly, and Subtropics. Katherine earned her MFA in poetry at Penn State University, where she is now an IT Trainer in the Office of Research Protections. She lives in State College with her husband, Andrew.