Monday, September 1, 2014

Scott Cairns*

Scott Cairns is the 2014 winner of the Denise Levertov Prize. Earlier this year his seventh poetry book, Idiot Psalms, was published by Paraclete Press. He is the Catherine Paine Middlebush Chair in English at the University of Missouri. Every June, on the Greek island of Thasos he directs an annual 4-week writing workshop. Newly available is Parable—a CD of Scott Cairns reading his poetry—recorded by Roy Salmond in Vancouver.

B.H. Fairchild has said that Cairns "is steadily making himself indispensable to the richness and breadth of contemporary poetry, an ascent confirmed both beautifully and movingly in Idiot Psalms."

The following poem first appeared in Poetry.

Idiot Psalm 3
—a psalm of Isaak, whispered mid the Philistines, beneath the breath

Master both invisible and notoriously
---------slow to act, should You incline to fix
---------Your generous attentions for the moment
---------to the narrow scent of this our appointed
---------tedium, should you—once our kindly
---------secretary has duly noted which of us
---------is feigning presence, and which excused, which unexcused,
---------You may be entertained to hear how much we find to say
---------about so little. Among these other mediocrities,
---------Your mediocre servant gets a glimpse of how
---------his slow and meager worship might appear
---------from where you endlessly attend our dreariness.
Holy One, forgive, forgo and, if You will, fend off
---------from this my heart the sense that I am drowning here
---------amid the motions, the discussions, the several
---------questions endlessly recast, our paper ballots.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Scott Cairns: first post, third post, fourth 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.