Pauletta Hansel was born and raised in southeastern Kentucky. Her early writing was encouraged by poets sent to teach in mountain schools during the 1960s’ Appalachian anti-poverty efforts. At 14, she received $75 for publishing a poem in Scholastic Magazine. That was not enough to address poverty in Appalachia, but it was enough to encourage her to pursue a career in the lucrative field of poetry.
Pauletta is the author of four collections of poetry, though none contain sonnets:
• Divining, for which she was awarded Ohio Poet of the Year in 2003. It is available on Amazon for as little as $9.60 (used) and is eligible for super saver shipping.
• Third Person, one of the highest selling chapbooks published by Dos Madres Press.
• What I Did There (also from Dos Madres Press) which incorporates the chapbook, additional poems and family photos (including ones of Pauletta with big hair). It does not include the rare photo that inspired this sonnet, showing Pauletta’s father, Charles, standing between the father he barely knew and his Uncle Taylor, who was murdered in a Harlan County coal camp some years later.
• The Lives We Live in Houses, from Wind Publications, which was also her MFA thesis at Queens University of Charlotte. It doesn’t have photos but does have a really cool cover.
If you can’t afford a whole book, you could pick up a copy of the Atlanta Review, where she won an International Publication Award, or Appalachian Journal, ABZ Journal, Southern Women’s Review and Still: The Journal, to name a few recent publications.
To supplement her royalties, Pauletta leads writing classes and workshops, including at Thomas More College, where she is Writer-in-Residence. She is also an editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative’s literary magazine which, unfortunately, is not a paying position. Pauletta lives in a house surrounded by flower gardens in Cincinnati, OH, with several fish, three cats buried by the lilac bush, and her husband Owen, a business analyst and author of this bio. She recently discovered she was a much more interesting person before she had teen-aged stepchildren who, were they viewers of PBS, would no doubt agree with the Dowager Countess of Grantham regarding the wisdom of allowing poets in the family.