Monday, February 3, 2014

Nicholas Samaras*

Nicholas Samaras may have been expected to deliver a quick follow-up to his book Hands of the Saddlemaker, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award back in 1991. He didn't. That follow-up will be delivered by The Ashland Poetry Press in March of 2014. One reason for the delay, is that his new manuscript—American Psalm, World Psalm—consists of 150 new poems: a large undertaking.

Yes, these are psalms—150 of them to emulate the Psalms of scripture. As Samaras has written in his preface: "I began this writing because I always perceived the Biblical Psalms to be pure songs, as the most powerful of rhythms and choruses." His psalms are reminiscent in tone to those written by King David, Asaph and the Sons of Korah. They also remind me of Leonard Cohen's Book of Mercy, although more consistently demonstrating a spirit of submission.

I am honoured that Nicholas Samaras contacted me concerning American Psalm, World Psalm. The following is the 26th psalm in the collection. This is the first time it has appeared anywhere.

Psalm of Belief and Unbelief

Lord, although I know you are there,
let me know you are there.

Lord, I know you are with me
but be with me.

I know you hear my every breath
but hear me, Lord.

I am the draft at the insulated window,
the lingering child in the adult.

I am the light overcome by night,
the persistent wavering that calls out,

Lord, although I know you are there,
let me know you are there.

As I know you are with me, be with me
while I overcome myself, Lord—and hear

my every breath.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Nicholas Samaras: first post

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new 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.