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Number of Pages: 160
Vendor: Paraclete Press
Publication Date: 2016
|Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)|
"Paraclete is a house firmly rooted in presending and curating religious poetry as part of the verbal experience that, being couched more deeply in the aesthetic than the didactic, has deep resonance and potent significance for the shaping of the surrounding culture itself. It means the on-going giving away and sharing of God with humility through mystery." Phyllis Tickle (1934-2015)
You'll wear out the pages and the binding before you're ever ready to put down this book. Consider this a short course for the soul. Or, perhaps, the syllabus to last a lifetime. Herein, Mark S. Burrows, a poet, translator and professor of historical theology and literature becomes one of those once-in-a-lifetime teachers who illuminates the way into the depths of a subject we've never before seen so clearly.
In his introduction, "'A Sense of Presence': Poetry and the Education of the Soul," Burrows makes the case for why poetry is a sure road into the uncharted landscape of the divine. It is through "the startlements of language" that a poem begins its work, in its capacity to awaken "the sense of wonder by which we discover again and again traces of the beauty that saturates our world," Burrows writes, drawing fluently from a pantheon of poets. "In moments of surprise, we sense light breaking forth from the dark we carry within us," the professor writes. Poems attune our minds "through the practice of attention." And they invite us "to wander into truths often hiding in plain view." And then, as if we've been invited into a book-lined library, one curated across a lifetime, Burrows lines up a litany of poets and poems illustrating that very thesis. Gathered here we find selected and new poems from a contemplative monk or three, an Episcopal priest, a rabbi, a protege of Thomas Merton, an Iranian-German poet, a theologian, a flock of English professors, and poets from Ireland, Poland, West Virginia and Tennessee. Tucked amid the poets' roster, we find Rainer Maria Rilke, considered one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets, in new and previous translations by Burrows.Barbara Mahany, Chicago Tribune
sheep23St. Charles, MOAge: 25-34Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Beauty IndeedJanuary 29, 2017sheep23St. Charles, MOAge: 25-34Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Bringing words to life on a page is hard work, and no work is harder than poetry. Poets take the visceral, the mundane, and the disjointed and frayed things of life and put them on their head. This new anthology of poetry put out by Paraclete Press and edited by Mark S. Burrows, takes the best poetry of today and brings together old and new poems from these gifted creators. You find poems from Scott Cairs, SAID, Phyllis Tickle, and others. The collection stems the span of 2005-2016 and includes both religious poems and themes, as well as themes covering a broad swath of topics.
One of the beauties of this collection is the array of poems that the anthology includes in its pages. One poem in particular stuck with me as read through the collection. Anna Kamienska is a wonderful Polish poet who interacts with the wider lens of faith while looking carefully at the world we live in. She says in her poem named Gratitude, (44)
A tempest threw a rainbow in my face
so that I wanted to fall under the rain
to kiss the hands of an old woman to whom I gave my seat
to thank everyone for the fact that they exist
and at times even feel like smiling
The weight of such thanks bypasses us most days, but Anna captures the grace of the matter here. Not wanting to let go of such small moments, both the rainbow, the rain, and the old woman give way to a hearty bellow of praise. There is a sensibility here in these words that speaks to a heart that is full of gratitude. Further, the praise and thanks here does not distinguish between one group or another,but sees the whole of creation as worthy of thanks.
The meditation poem by Rami Shapiro entitled From Light to Light is brimming with hope. He begins,
As I am enveloped in God's light,
so may I be a beacon of light
to those in search of light.
As I take shelter in God's peace,
so may I offer the shelter of peace
to those in search of peace.
The pattern of reflection is key here, as such that as a person is in God's light, he shares that light with others. The key theme that Rami picks up on here is that people are altogether on a search, for peace, for light, for something that they don't presently have but fully desire. Poems should do exactly that, by pointing out where our searching leads to and how the search leads to an answer.
I hope you enjoy these poems as I continually have.
Thanks to Paraclete Press for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Posted by Spencer Cummins at 7:59 AM