she: robed and wordless by Lou Ella Hickman


she: robed and wordless by Lou Ella Hickman


A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection

ISBN 978-1-941209-25-7

8 x 5.25 inches, 110 pages

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Book description

“After Eve, who is the next woman named in the Bible?” asks editor Tom Lombardo in his Introduction. In she: robed and wordless, Lou Ella Hickman—a widely published poet and Catholic nun—invites us to listen to the words of the women in the Bible, who encountered grace and sins, joys and sorrows, life and death. With empathy and language, Hickman opens up for us what might have transpired in the minds and hearts of these women.


Praise for she: robed and wordless

These terse little poems are often bright nuggets of insight into the psyches not only of the Biblical women who speak through this poet’s imagination, but they are also deep insights into our own psyches. Although the voices imagined here are the voices of many women from the Bible, the truths revealed are universal. These new takes on stories that are often familiar make for fascinating reading. Lou Ella Hickman has provided here a fine testimony to the power of imagination and myth. 

David Bottoms, Georgia Poet Laureate and author of We Almost Disappear

If Sister Lou Ella Hickman had not found her voice before writing this collection of poetry, she certainly found it in the writing. The voice is strong, solid and compassionate, finding poetry equally in grief, guilt, suffering and hope. Through imaginative contemplation, she offers a panorama of encounters with scriptural or contemporary women—women who have been told to keep their clothes on (or off) and remain quiet. The God of this collection is no mealy-mouthed placator but is vocal, decisive, passionate, and ever creating with a ‘fiery breath.’ This is a most approachable collection of poetry. It is poetry to be befriended, poetry with which to sup, and poetry with which to feel your heart burn.  

Dr. Marlene Marburg, PhD, poet, spiritual director and formator

Some years back I attended a lecture given by a nun who taught Scripture at a leading Catholic theological school in the United States. As I listened to her comment on familiar passages from the Gospels, I came to realize that there is indeed a distinctive lens through which women of faith view the events and stories of our tradition. As the editor of a Catholic journal privileged to have Sister Lou Ella Hickman as a regular contributor, I have long appreciated the beauty and power of her poetry.

     In she: robed and wordless, Sister Lou Ella invites us to ponder the workings of God in the lives of biblical women―many familiar, others more obscure―all touched by grace and mystery in the encounter with the divine.

     Like e. e. cummings, Sister Lou Ella uses lower case in her writing. Don’t be fooled! Her words are definitely upper case in their power and evocativeness. Her poetry never fails to touch something deep in me, and I believe you will experience it too. So, let her take you from “the beginning” to the encounter with Jesus, and everywhere in between, as the women of the Bible tell us of God, of mercy, redemption, healing, life itself, and of the yearning deep in the soul of each of us. 

Anthony Schueller, SSS (Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament), Editor of Emmanuel Magazine

Only a skilled diamond cutter can take what looks like an ordinary stone and coax out an exquisite jewel. This is what Lou Ella Hickman has done. Each poem in this collection is a jewel. Hickman lays bare sentiments appropriate to the biblical scene sketched. We come to know these women, whether they are named or unnamed, because the sentiments are familiar to us. But is not that what good poetry does—introduce us to strangers in whom we discover ourselves?

Dianne Bergant, CSA, former Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., Distinguished Professor Emerita of Old Testament Studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago

Sister Lou Ella Hickman has written a remarkable book of poems about the women of the Bible—the holy (Sarah, Rachel, Elizabeth, the Blessed Mother), the unholy (Delilah, Salome) and the wholly silent (Absalom's wife, Thomas's twin sister, Nicodemus's wife, the mother of Zebedee's sons). The poems here are poignant monologues, penetrating meditations on these women's mea culpas, prayers, or perils to their souls' health. Sister Lou Ella takes us into those feminine liminal spaces where Biblical truths emerge with keen sensitivity and often powerful empathy. Eve laments her "weakness and everything in between"; Delilah is shadowed by "the dark orchard between [her] thighs"; Lot's daughter "lives in whispers"; Magdalen "heard inner music"; and the Blessed Mother's words are "like mirrors,/ reflecting both surprise and treasure." Sister Lou Ella is both gifted poet and wise theologian. I rejoice in her achievement.

Philip C. Kolin, University Distinguished Professor at University of Southern Mississippi

Each of Sister Lou Ella’s reflective poems fits neatly into the empty spaces left in their scripture stories—the spaces most often occupied by women. And from there, they open up the stories for new insights, from surprising perspectives (like that of the generations of unnamed women between Eve and Sarah!). This collection will stir up the sanctified imaginations of faithful women (and the men who love them).

Philip May, Parish Priest, Church of the Good Shepherd, Corpus Christi, Texas

In concise, powerful poems, the various characters pour forth their humanity, their womanhood, reason and emotions, from the perspective of the world in which they live, and the knowledge, wisdom, and recognition of the Spirit that speaks to their souls. They speak as women to women, in brief, crystalline images that need no explaining. 

—Patsy Anne Bickerstaff, Rio Grande Catholic


About the Author

Sister Lou Ella Hiskman is a member of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament of Corpus Christi, Texas. She has a master’s in theology and she taught on all levels, including college. She has worked in two libraries before working in a parish. Presently, she is a freelance writer as well as a certified spiritual director. Her poems and articles have been published in numerous magazines, including After Shocks: Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events, edited by Tom Lombardo, and in Down the Dark River, edited by Philip Kolin.