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Patricia Traxler, Kansas Poet

Patricia Traxler

Naming the Fires book cover

The Glass Woman, Book Cover, Patricia Traxler

Forbidden Words, Book Cover, Patricia Traxler

Blood Calender, Book Cover, Patricia Traxler

Blood, Book Cover, Patricia Traxler

A First Name Basis, Book Cover, Patricia Traxler

Earthly Luck, Book Cover, Patricia Traxler

The Mushrooms of Maise Zupnik, Book Cover, Patricia Traxler





Patricia Traxler was born and raised in California, and in 1980 she moved to Kansas, where the three generations of the Traxler family before her had homesteaded and farmed in the Waterville area. Since that time she has lived in Salina, where she has taught creative writing and worked as a poet in the community. She has also served residencies around the U.S., including as Hugo Poet at the University of Montana, as Thurber Poet at Ohio State, and twice as the Bunting Poetry Fellow at Radcliffe. She has published three poetry collections, one novel, and two anthologies of personal history writings by people who grew up in Kansas between 1910 and 1975. Her poetry has appeared widely, including in The Nation, The Boston Review, Agni, New Letters, Ploughshares, Ms. Magazine, Slate, Tikkun, The LA Times Literary Supplement, and in numerous anthologies, including Best American Poetry. She has also published and won awards for her short stories, and her essays have appeared in several publications, including Newsweek. Patricia's most recent collection of poetry, Naming the Fires (2016), is from Hanging Loose Press, and the cover is by poet and artist Harley Elliott.

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Bibliography ( - housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)  



  • Blood (Minotaur Books, 2002)

Short Stories:

Anthologies Edited:

  • In Our Time (Smoky Hill River Press, 1989)
  • Vintage (Smoky Hill River Press, 1987)
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Writing Samples  

The Sign

It might have been a Hitchcock movie:
The Butterflies. They were in the air
everywhere, over cobbled streets, across
the highway and the railroad tracks

at Linz, kamikaze butterflies dashing
windshields, a floating wall of white aflutter
in the air like crumpled tissues; beauty
metamorphosed into pestilence. On the train

the mood endured. We settled into a cluttered light,
the car's chatter, accelerating rhythm of the rails,
everything at once remote and intimate. Your eyes
were your father's dark eyes. Out the window

in the fog a freight yard heaped with scrap iron,
stacked ties, refuse; the sign just a flicker
above the gate, unreadable. Opposite us, a drowsy
worker. Arbeiter. Blond, like me, blue-eyed.

Everyone I see here, I wonder. A slow silence solidified
the air; paraffin. I turned my eyes to the window like
evidence to hide, drowned them in the Danube. After
a while you found my hand and held it right next to

your ribs. The worker dozed. Your heart beat
against my knuckles as we watched the land slip by.
Blue Danube. It moved, ineluctable as history, all
the way to Vienna it moved alongside our train.

---From Forbidden Words


Just as I'm closing the night curtains
I see them: they glide and flicker
& vanish in the dark like small dreams
When you were a kid
you say you caught them in a jar
& made them into necklaces of light

Through the window the street is
absolutely still
except for fireflies: they slide
toward this glass like falling stars
& I begin to think of wishes
that could still be answered
they come close
& then go black you left

my life so cleanly I can find
no trace of the heart that quickened
in this room so many nights I remember
how your eyes darkened night
by night but still you pressed
into me till light filled my bones
Fireflies gather

beyond the glass as I wrap
myself in blankets & dream all night
of a light unkown on earth
a light that can be held securely
in the human hand

---From The Glass Woman

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  • Ploughshares' Cohen Award
  • Nimrod's Pablo Nerud Award
  • The Writer's voice of New York City Open Voice Award for Short Fiction
  • Radcliffe's Presidential Discretionary Award
  • Kansas Literary Fellowship
  • 1994 Poetry Society of America Writers Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award Honors
  • 1999 Poetry Society of America Writers Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award Honors
  • The Alice Carter Award for Poetry from Kansas University
  • Grand Prize winner of the International Imitation Hemingway Competition
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