Monday, March 7, 2011

Walt McDonald

Walt McDonald has published more than twenty collections of poetry, including Faith Is A Radical Master: New and Selected Poems (Abilene Christian University Press, 2005), and has had more than 2300 poems published in journals and collections; in 2001 he was the Poet Laureate for Texas. He is professor of English Emeritus at Texas Tech University.

When asked in an interview in Valparaiso Poetry Review, to whom he felt responsible, McDonald said,

--------“As a Christian, why do I write? I'm as vulnerable to vanity
--------as Solomon and anybody I know, often ‘Desiring this
--------man's art and that man's scope,’ as Shakespeare said.
--------I go back to the book for assurance that working with words
--------is alright, even a good thing to do: ‘Whatever your
--------hand finds to do, do it with all your might.’ I take
--------heart from Paul's advice: ‘Whatever you do, work at it with
--------all your heart, as working for the Lord.’ After his
--------conversion, John Berryman wrote, ‘Father Hopkins said the
--------only true literary critic is Christ. Let me lie down
--------exhausted, content with that’."

(The John Berryman poem McDonald quotes from here, is available elsewhere on this blog.)

Walt McDonald’s poetry demonstrates his faith and his faithfulness to his calling.

Alone at Dawn with the Blinds Raised

How does faith come—like a hummingbird darting by—
or a pair of elk cows clipping our grass at dawn,
sniffing the picnic table while we wait
with the blinds raised. Soon, beams will splash
the mountain peak, lights will come on,

a cabin door will close, the elk will lift their heads
and stare, and trot with eyes wide back to the tree line.
But suddenly, others come, almost glowing in their blond,
thick, winter coats, bowing to grass we’ve watered
and not mowed, hoping for this moment—four,

fourteen, the whole herd here on our lawn,
sisters and mothers on our green slope,
cougars and coyotes a thousand yards behind them,
calves on their way within weeks—but all that’s later,
and the best grass since last summer is right now.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: