Monday, April 20, 2015

Anne Porter*

Anne Porter (1911—2011) has left us two collections of her poetry. When her first book, An Altogether Different Language, was honoured as a finalist for the National Book Award, she was 83 years old. Her second book, Living Things (2006), is her collected poems, so includes the first book in its entirety.

Although she wrote poetry all her life, she rarely found time — being married to accomplished painter Fairfield Porter, and raising their five children. She can often be seen as a model in her husband's paintings, although she saw herself more as an object in the scene than as the subject. Other than entertaining friends — such as painter Jackson Pollack, and poet Frank O'Hara — her social life centred on the local Methodist church. After her husband died in 1975 she moved on from what she had taken as her vocation to another — beginning to write poetry more seriously.

David Shapiro, in his introduction to An Altogether Different Language, describes her as: " ecstatic exception, an American religious poet of stature who reminds us that the idea of the holy is still possible for us." He writes, "For Anne Porter, the holy is found in a commitment to Christ the Mediator and his triumph in suffering for a suffering world."

She died in 2011, just a month shy of her 100th birthday.

Listening To The Crows

Infant in a pinewood
Lying in a basket
Not owning anything
Not knowing
A single word

I listened to the shiny
Crows outside my window
As they spoke with one another
In a strange tribal language

And even now
When I wake up early
And overhear the crows
Calling to one another
In the cool floods of the air

The deeps of infancy
Open within me
Their wonder washes me
And instantly

My heart grows light
As light as if the world
Had never fallen.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Anne Porter: first post, third post.

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