Monday, September 24, 2012

Brad Davis

Brad Davis is the winner of the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize, and the International Arts Movement Poetry Prize. He has lived in the west — British Columbia and Washington State — seven different states in the east, and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He has also taught at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts and at Eastern Connecticut State University.

He is the author of Opening King David, published by Wipf & Stock in 2011. It is a series of 150 poems which respond to, or leap from, thoughts expressed in the 150 biblical psalms. These poems previously appeared in four separate volumes, published by Antrim House Publishers. Although these poems often speak of faith, this is not a collection of devotional verse. Opening King David shows us Davis on his journey, with fellow-travelers — including his close friend Bill who experiences his wife’s slow dying through the time these poems were written. Scott Cairns has said of this book, “Brad Davis has pored over both the scriptures and our common experience...that we might glimpse how every challenge, every adversity might be met with grace.”

Reasons I Write

Those who assume they have no one
to whom they must account for their words—

like politicians, bankers, older brothers,
theologians, poets, headmasters—

they are wrong. Every knee will bow, every
tongue confess
. So I do not use words

like “shit” or “Sovereign Lord” unaware.
Berryman, after Hopkins, wrote truly:

that line about Christ being the only
just critic. I write because it takes little

to spark my rage, and Saint Paul said we must
toil with our hands for the end of anger

is murder, and if any would be saved,
they must, with fear and trembling, work it out.


This is the first Kingdom Poets post about Brad Davis: second post

Posted with permission of the poet.

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: www.dsmartin.ca

Monday, September 17, 2012

Thomas Traherne

Thomas Traherne (1637—1674) is considered by some to be the last of the English metaphysical poets, connecting him with such figures as John Donne and George Herbert. Although he was somewhat agnostic at age 15 when he went to Oxford's Brasenose College, he had a mystical experience there which led him to become an Anglican priest.

He only published one prose book before his death, Roman Forgeries (1673). Two further books appeared before the seventeenth century was through, but his poetry largely remained unknown.

In 1896 two of his poetry manuscripts were discovered in a London bookstall; at first they were thought to be the work of Henry Vaughan, but were soon identified as the work of Traherne, and published in 1903 as Poetical Works. In 1910 another was discovered in the British Museum and published as Poems of Felicity. Further discoveries of his writing, some as recently as 1997, have continued to increase interest in Traherne as a theologian and a poet. To this day, much of his work only appears in manuscript form.

His Power Bounded, Greater Is His Might

His Power bounded, greater is in might,
Than if let loose, 'twere wholly infinite.
He could have made an endless sea by this,
But then it had not been a sea of bliss.
Did waters from the centre to the skies
Ascend, 'twould drown whatever else we prize.
The ocean bounded in a finite shore,
Is better far because it is no more.
No use nor glory would in that be seen,
His power made it endless in esteem.
Had not the Sun been bounded in its sphere,
Did all the world in one fair flame appear,
And were that flame a real Infinite
'Twould yield no profit, splendor, nor delight.
Its corps confined, and beams extended be
Effects of Wisdom in the Deity.
One star made infinite would all exclude,
An earth made infinite could ne'er be viewed:
But one being fashioned for the other's sake,
He, bounding all, did all most useful make
And which is best, in profit and delight
Tho' not in bulk, they all are infinite.

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: www.dsmartin.ca

Monday, September 10, 2012

Countee Cullen

Countee Cullen (1903—1946) was a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. When he was fifteen his grandmother, who was his guardian, died; Countee was adopted by the influential Rev. Frederick A. Cullen — pastor of the Salem Methodist Episcopal Church, the largest church in Harlem. He found himself at the centre of black American culture in his home life, and under the influence of Western white society in his education. He distinguished himself in his high school and at New York University. His first poetry collection, Color, appeared in 1925, the year he was accepted into the Masters program at Harvard.

In Cullen's poem “Heritage” he asks the question “What is Africa to me?” He admits his heritage does not include tribal idol worship, but is of following Christ, even though Jesus did not have black skin.
---------My conversion came high-priced;
---------I belong to Jesus Christ,
---------Preacher of humility;
---------Heathen gods are naught to me...
Cullen was conservative in his literary taste. He took English poets John Keats and A.E. Housman as his models, because he felt that all influences were his for the taking, and that art could overshadow the differences between races.

Simon the Cyrenian Speaks

He never spoke a word to me,
And yet He called my name;
He never gave a sign to me,
And yet I knew and came.

At first I said, “I will not bear
His cross upon my back;
He only seeks to place it there
Because my skin is black.”

But He was dying for a dream,
And He was very meek,
And in His eyes there shone a gleam
Men journey far to seek.

It was Himself my pity bought;
I did for Christ alone
What all of Rome could not have wrought
With bruise of lash or stone.

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: www.dsmartin.ca

Monday, September 3, 2012

Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite is an Anglican priest, and author of several books, including the study Faith, Hope and Poetry. Rowan Williams describes it as “a profound theology of the imagination”, and Luci Shaw praises Guite as “a poet and scholar of the highest order”. He serves as Chaplain at Cambridge University’s Girton College, and is a singer/guitarist for the blues band “Mystery Train”. His verse follows traditional poetic formats. Two of his significant literary influences are Coleridge and C.S. Lewis.

The following poem is from Malcolm Guite’s new book of sonnets, Sounding the Seasons, which will be published by Canterbury Press this year.

St. Thomas the Apostle

“We do not know… how can we know the way?”
Courageous master of the awkward question,
You spoke the words the others dared not say
And cut through their evasion and abstraction.
Oh doubting Thomas, father of my faith,
You put your finger on the nub of things
We cannot love some disembodied wraith,
But flesh and blood must be our king of kings.
Your teaching is to touch, embrace, anoint,
Feel after Him and find Him in the flesh.
Because He loved your awkward counter-point
The Word has heard and granted you your wish.
Oh place my hands with yours, help me divine
The wounded God whose wounds are healing mine.

Posted with permission of the poet.

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: www.dsmartin.ca