Monday, November 20, 2017

Angeline Schellenberg

Angeline Schellenberg is a poet and journalist living in Winnipeg. Her first full-length book, Tell Them It Was Mozart — linked poems about raising children on the autism spectrum — was published by Brick Books in the fall of 2016. It won the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry, the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book, and the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. She works as a copy editor for the Mennonite Brethren Herald, and has had poems appear in Arc, Prairie Fire, CV2, and The New Quarterly. Her poetry chapbook Roads of Stone was published by the Alfred Gustav Press in 2015.

She is one of the poets who contributed a poem about Isaiah 55 for my blog The 55 Project, and has three poems included in my forthcoming anthology Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse (2017, Cascade).

The following poem is from Tell Them It Was Mozart.

Confession

I don't pray much
my words too blunt to pierce a divine ear
my thoughts too heavy to fly
in the face of gravity
I don't pray much
------unless you count the reaching
and resigning of my breast
seventeen thousand times a day
the testing
and trusting under my feet
in every forward, backward
place
------the way my eyelids close
to the mess I cannot clear
I make chaos disappear
and in the morning dare to rise
----------------------------again

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thomas Merton*

Thomas Merton (1915—1968) is the author of more than seventy books, including his best-selling autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain (1948). His first poetry collection Thirty Poems (New Directions) appeared in 1944, followed by A Man in the Divided Sea (1946).

Merton had long been interested in Eastern religions — not for their doctrines, but for what they said about human experience. He was absolutely committed to Christianity, but felt that people of other faiths would also be committed to their own. He was influential through his promotion of inter-faith dialogue, and as a pacifist during the time of the race riots and anti-war protests of the 1960s.

He died while attending an inter-faith conference in Bangkok, Thailand — having been electrocuted in an accident with an electric fan after stepping from the bath. He is buried in Kentucky at the Trappist Monastery, Gethsemani Abbey.

For My Brother — Missing In Action 1943

Sweet brother, if I do not sleep
My eyes are flowers for your tomb;
And if I cannot eat my bread,
My fasts shall live like willows where you died.
If in the heat I find no water for my thirst,
My thirst shall turn to springs for you, poor traveller.

Where, in what desolate and smokey country,
Lies your poor body, lost and dead?
And in what landscape of disaster
Has your unhappy spirit lost its road?

Come, in my labor find a resting place
And in my sorrows lay your head,
Or rather take my life and blood
And buy yourself a better bed

—Or take my breath and take my death
And buy yourself a better rest.

When all the men of war are shot
And flags have fallen into dust,
Your cross and mine shall tell men still
Christ died on each, for both of us.

For in the wreckage of your April Christ lies slain,
And Christ weeps in the ruins of my spring:
The money of Whose tears shall fall
Into your weak and friendless hand,
And buy you back to your own land:

The silence of Whose tears shall fall
Like bells upon your alien tomb.
Hear them and come: they call you home.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Thomas Merton: first post

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Francisco de Quevedo

Francisco de Quevedo (1580—1645) is considered to be the master satirist of Spain’s golden age. While still a student Quevedo’s writing caught the attention of Miguel de Cervantes. As gratifying as this was, his primary interest was to gain prominence through politics. For seven years Quevedo became dedicated to the service of the Duke de Osuna, who was conspiring to seize control of Venice. When Osuna’s plan failed, the Spanish government distanced itself from him, and by extension from Quevedo. Disillusioned with politics, Quevedo turned his attention to literature.

Quevedo developed a style of poetry called conceptismo, which began with a conceit — similar to his English contemporary John Donne — that would expand into an elaborate poem-length metaphor. Quevedo’s style features condensed simple language, as opposed to the ornate style of Luis de Góngora. Unfortunately, the rivalry between the two styles became a personal battle between the two men.

Francisco de Quevedo is known for the novel The Life Story of the Sharper, called Don Pablos — a precursor to the satirical novels of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The following was translated by Michael Smith

from On The Anvil – LVII

Adam in Eden, You in a garden;
He in all honour, You in your agony;
He sleeps and his company ill-watches;
You pray wide awake as yours slumbers.

His act was the first of disharmonies;
You composed our primordial day;
You drink the cup your Father sends;
He eats defiance and lives as dead.

The sweat of his brow is his sustenance;
That of yours is our glory:
The guilt was his, the affront yours.

He bequeathed horror; You leave us a memory;
His, a blind deceit; yours, a prime bargain.
How different the story you leave us!

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Martin Luther*

Martin Luther (1483—1546) is the figure most-closely identified with the Protestant Reformation. It was 500 years ago — on October 31, 1517 — that he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. It was not Luther’s intention to separate from the Catholic Church, but to draw to the attention of its leaders that some of its common teachings were contradicting what the Bible teaches.

In particular, the teaching that people could have the souls of their departed loved ones released from Purgatory through a donation to the Church, was false and undermined true faith. Luther realized that Scripture expresses, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (Romans 1:17)

A recent article from Christianity Today begins:
----"In the sixteenth century, the world was divided about Martin
----Luther. One Catholic thought Martin Luther was a "demon in
----the appearance of a man." Another who first questioned Luther's
----theology later declared, 'He alone is right!'

----"In our day, nearly 500 years hence, the verdict is nearly
----unanimous to the good. Both Catholics and Protestants affirm
----he was not only right about a great deal, but he changed the
----course of Western history for the better."

In other words, celebrating the anniversary of the Reformation is not to further division between Protestants and Catholics, but to remember Luther, and the other reformers, who have helped all of us in our desire to follow the truth.

Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord

Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord!
In your believers’ hearts be stored
The fullness of your grace and light;
Your burning love in them ignite.
O Lord, what has your radiance done!
Within the faith you’ve made as one
People and realms of ev’ry tongue!
For this, O Lord, your praises e’er be sung!
Alleluia! Alleluia!

O Holy Light, Shield Supreme!
The Word of life upon us beam
And teach us all the highest art—
To call God, “Father,” from the heart.
O Lord, keep us from falsehood free;
Let Jesus our sole master be,
That with a faith correct and right
We place our trust in him with all our might.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

O Holy Fire, Cheer so sweet!
Help us, with joy and cheer replete,
To serve you steadfast, come what may,
Nor by our trials be driven away.
O Lord, lend power for the fight,
Repress for us Old Adam’s fright,
That we as knights wage battle brave,
Press on to you in heaven through grief and grave.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Martin Luther: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Richard Osler

Richard Osler lives on Vancouver Island, where he facilitates weekly poetry workshops at Cedars — an addiction recovery centre. He also leads poetry writing retreats, and poetry as prayer retreats — primarily in western Canada, but recently completed a ten-day retreat in Italy. He has published several chapbooks, including Where the Water Lives (2012, Leaf Press). His first full-length poetry collection Hyaena Season was published by Quattro Books in 2016.

Before being drawn to poetry, Richard worked as a business journalist for the Financial Post. For nine years, he was a business columnist for the CBC Radio program Morningside with Peter Gzowski. Some of his nonfiction work appears in a volume of Gzowski’s Morningside Papers.

Some of Richard’s most important influences include novelist Sir Laurens van der Post — poets David Whyte, and Patrick Lane — and poetry therapist John Fox. Richard Osler is one of the poets included in my soon-to-be-released anthology Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse (2017, Cascade).

What I Want

The copper lake, blue-green,
where the cinnamon bear lopes up the scree
stopping once to look back before its final bound
into the trees. I want the trees and what they say
back to wind, to rain and thunder. I want thunder
and lightning’s crooked light. And I want the morning,
sloe-eyed, and night stuffed back inside its purse.
I want the boat, the storm and the man in the stern
who calms it; the water before it turns to wine.
I want the late-day light, the way it streams
across the bridge suspended over the narrows
and the look of the sun-struck woman crossing over.
I want her brown eyes looking into her lover’s blue.
I want to say to Galway Kinnell what is is not enough
when what is is war or famine, the bruised child
or the wife in pajamas, after breakfast, who tells
her husband of more than twenty years:
his love
----------is not
---------------------enough.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, October 16, 2017

R.C. Trench

R.C. Trench (1807—1886) is a former Archbishop, a philologist and a poet. He was born in Dublin, and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge. His first collection The Story of Justin Martyr and Other Poems was favourably received in 1835. This and his other early collections demonstrated the influence of Wordsworth upon his writing. His 1851 book The Study of Words established his reputation as a philologist. He was also influential in the eventual development of the Oxford English Dictionary.

In 1856 Trench became the Dean of Westminster Abbey, and in 1864 the Archbishop of Dublin. His grave is in the central nave of Westminster Abbey where a plaque in Latin declares:
----"In memory of Richard Chenevix Trench, Dean of this church for
----7 years, Archbishop of Dublin for 21 years, who, captivated by
----the love of eternal truth in Christ, sang of its most holy
----beauty in his poetry and illuminated it in his expositions, and,
----in times of joy, in times of trouble, living and dying, he
----devoted himself to it with a singular and unimpaired
----faithfulness. His family erected this monument in thankfulness
----to God. He died in the year of salvation 1886, aged 78".

Sonnet 3

Spent in Thy presence will prevail to make —
What heavy burdens from our bosoms take,
What parchèd grounds refresh, as with a shower!
We kneel, and all around us seems to lower;
We rise, and all, the distant and the near,
Stands forth in sunny outline, brave and clear;
We kneel how weak, we rise how full of power!
Why, therefore, should we do ourselves this wrong,
Or others — that we are not always strong;
That we are ever overborne with care;
That we should ever weak or heartless be,
Anxious or troubled, when with us is prayer,
And joy, and strength, and courage, are with Thee?

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, October 9, 2017

John Poch

John Poch is the author of four poetry collections, the newest of which, Fix Quiet (2015, St. Augustine’s Press), won the 2014 New Criterion Poetry Prize.

My first connection with his poetry was through the CD collection Poetry on Record which brings together recordings of 98 different poets reading their own work — including such early voices as Tennyson, Whitman, Yeats and Frost — and contemporary poets such as Li-Young Lee and Carolyn Forché. Poch’s recording, from 2004, has him reading his poem “Simon Peter” which originally appeared in the magazine, America.

He is the founding editor of the journal 32 Poems, and teaches at Texas Tech University. The following poem first appeared in Blackbird.

John's Christ

The auctioneer commits his little gaffe
when his helpers lift the latch-hook tapestry
of Leonardo’s Christian masterpiece:
The Large Supper. The waiting bidders laugh.

And though the latest spiritual fad has raptured
a populace of novel novel-lovers,
DaVinci’s purpose is better left to others.
But here at our local auction I am captured,

wanting to lean, like John, away from the master,
get some perspective on His hands, the gist
of one opening, one closing, not a fist,
His arms apart, beholding, Jesus’ gesture—

over his empty plate and the rag-tag cast—
preparing for the word, large, or last.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.