Monday, June 24, 2013

Allen Tate

Allen Tate (1899—1979) is an important poet of the southern school. He was one of the founding editors of The Fugitive, which helped promote formalist techniques in poetry, and agrarian values. Tate is best known for his poem "Ode to the Confederate Dead". He was influenced first by John Crowe Ransom, and then by T.S. Eliot. Tate, in turn, influenced such poets as Robert Lowell and John Berryman. He was also influential as a critic. In his complicated poems, the poet himself remains a distant figure.

According to The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry Tate has said that all of his poems are "about the suffering that comes from disbelief". In 1950 Tate officially converted to Catholicism, although he had been attracted to it for years.

Homily

If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out

If your tired unspeaking head
Rivet the dark with linear sight,
Crazed by a warlock with his curse
Dreamed up in some loquacious bed,
And if the stage-dark head rehearse
The fifth act of the closing night,

Why, cut it off, piece after piece,
And throw the tough cortex away,
And when you've marvelled on the wars
That wove their interior smoke its way,
Tear out the close vermiculate crease
Where death crawled angrily at bay.

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, June 17, 2013

Julie L. Moore

Julie L. Moore is an Ohio poet with two full-length collections to her credit — Slipping Out of Bloom (2010) and Particular Scandals (2013) which is part of The Poiema Poetry Series from Cascade Books. Her poems have appeared in over 100 publications, and she is the recipient of many awards, including the Paul Mariani Scholarship for Excellence in Poetry from Image’s Glen Workshop. She is the Writing Center Director and an Associate Professor of English at Cedarville University in Ohio.

Jeanne Murray Walker said of Julie L. Moore’s earlier collection: “Her poetry refrains from overstatement and extravagant gesture. It delineates many subtle colors on the palette of human suffering and faithfully documents nuances of joy.” This same strength was clear to me when I received the manuscript for Particular Scandals. I was immediately drawn in, poem after poem, and knew I wanted to include it in the Poiema Poetry Series.

The following poem is from Particular Scandals, and was the 2008 winner of the Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize from Ruminate, as selected by Luci Shaw.

Confession

----Mark 5:24-34

And in the twelfth year, there was still
--------blood. And so many difficult degrees

of separation. Everything, at this point,
--------burned. The once-soft skin of her labia.

The pathetic pulp of her womb.
--------And the mass of hard questions.

Pressing on her like the crowds
--------bearing down on him.

She knew the rules: Keep your hands
--------to yourself. Whatever you touch you foul.

But she reached for him anyway.
--------Fastened her un-

clean fingers, tipped
--------with outrageous nerve,

onto the lip of his cloak.
--------While he sensed the tug

of the siphon, the precious liquid of his power
--------tapped, she felt her river of red

drain, the fierce spear of her pain
--------withdraw.

He wanted to know who grasped
--------such scandalous and particular

faith. Never again would she soil
--------a place where she lay. So she fell

at his feet. Confessed.

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, June 10, 2013

Emily Dickinson*

Emily Dickinson (1830—1886) is known for her spiritual struggles which eventually isolated her from the citizens of Amherst, Massachusetts. Perhaps her biggest obstacle was the expectation, at her local Congregational church, that she should agree with them on doctrine. She couldn’t even agree with herself! Often she wrestled in doubt over something she’d once stated boldly, or declared as truth what she’d previously questioned. It seems she distrusted the attempt to nail truth down in direct words — more of a 21st century attitude than one of the 19th.

For years she had attended church regularly, had written enthusiastically about many sermons, and had travelled to hear some of the influential preachers of her day. Eventually, however, she was keeping more and more to herself. Her father asked their pastor, Rev. Jonathan Jenkins, to visit and assess her spiritual health. He declared it, “Sound”.

Tell All The Truth

Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth's superb surprise;

As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.

Given in Marriage unto Thee

Given in Marriage unto Thee
Oh thou Celestial Host—
Bride of the Father and the Son
Bride of the Holy Ghost.

Other Betrothal shall dissolve—
Wedlock of Will, decay—
Only the Keeper of this Ring
Conquer Mortality—

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Emily Dickinson: first post

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, June 3, 2013

Kathleen Norris

Kathleen Norris is an essayist and poet. She is well-known for her bestselling non-fiction books, which bring Christian spirituality and everyday life together — the most recent of which is Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life (2008). She has also written seven volumes of poetry, including Journey: New and Selected Poems (2001).

She grew up in Hawaii, and attended Bennington College in Vermont, where she continued her drift from the faith of her childhood. In 1971 her first book of poetry, Falling Off, won the Big Table Younger Poets Award. Three years later, she and her husband inherited her grandparents’ South Dakota farm; they moved there and decided to become part of the community by attending the local Presbyterian church. This changed her life, and inspired her first non-fiction book, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (1993), which became a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

In 1986 she also became an oblate of a Benedictine monastery in North Dakota, which led to her book The Cloister Walk (1996). Her husband of more than 25 years, the poet David Dwyer, died in 2003.

The following poem first appeared in Cross Currents.

Luke 14, a Commentary

He is there like Clouseau
at the odd moment,
just right: when he climbs
out of the fish pond
into which he has spectacularly
fallen, and says condescendingly
to his hosts, the owners
of the estate: "I fail
where others succeed." You know
this is truth. You know
he'll solve the mystery.
Unprepossessing
as he is, the last
of the great detectives.
He'll blend again into the scenery, and
more than once he'll be taken
for the gardener.
"Come now," he says, taking us
for all we're worth, "Sit
in the low place."
Why not? We ask. So easy
to fall for a man
who makes us laugh. "Invite those
you do not want to have, people
you'd hardly notice." He puts
us on, we put him on; another
of his jokes. "There's
room," he says. The meal is
good, absurdly
salty, but delicious.
Charlie Chaplin put it this way: "I want to play
the role of Jesus. I look the part.
I'm a Jew.
And I'm a comedian."

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