Monday, November 20, 2017

Angeline Schellenberg

Angeline Schellenberg is a poet and journalist living in Winnipeg. Her first full-length book, Tell Them It Was Mozart — linked poems about raising children on the autism spectrum — was published by Brick Books in the fall of 2016. It won the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry, the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book, and the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. She works as a copy editor for the Mennonite Brethren Herald, and has had poems appear in Arc, Prairie Fire, CV2, and The New Quarterly. Her poetry chapbook Roads of Stone was published by the Alfred Gustav Press in 2015.

She is one of the poets who contributed a poem about Isaiah 55 for my blog The 55 Project, and has three poems included in my forthcoming anthology Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse (2017, Cascade).

The following poem is from Tell Them It Was Mozart.

Confession

I don't pray much
my words too blunt to pierce a divine ear
my thoughts too heavy to fly
in the face of gravity
I don't pray much
------unless you count the reaching
and resigning of my breast
seventeen thousand times a day
the testing
and trusting under my feet
in every forward, backward
place
------the way my eyelids close
to the mess I cannot clear
I make chaos disappear
and in the morning dare to rise
----------------------------again

Posted with permission of the poet.

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.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thomas Merton*

Thomas Merton (1915—1968) is the author of more than seventy books, including his best-selling autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain (1948). His first poetry collection Thirty Poems (New Directions) appeared in 1944, followed by A Man in the Divided Sea (1946).

Merton had long been interested in Eastern religions — not for their doctrines, but for what they said about human experience. He was absolutely committed to Christianity, but felt that people of other faiths would also be committed to their own. He was influential through his promotion of inter-faith dialogue, and as a pacifist during the time of the race riots and anti-war protests of the 1960s.

He died while attending an inter-faith conference in Bangkok, Thailand — having been electrocuted in an accident with an electric fan after stepping from the bath. He is buried in Kentucky at the Trappist Monastery, Gethsemani Abbey.

For My Brother — Missing In Action 1943

Sweet brother, if I do not sleep
My eyes are flowers for your tomb;
And if I cannot eat my bread,
My fasts shall live like willows where you died.
If in the heat I find no water for my thirst,
My thirst shall turn to springs for you, poor traveller.

Where, in what desolate and smokey country,
Lies your poor body, lost and dead?
And in what landscape of disaster
Has your unhappy spirit lost its road?

Come, in my labor find a resting place
And in my sorrows lay your head,
Or rather take my life and blood
And buy yourself a better bed

—Or take my breath and take my death
And buy yourself a better rest.

When all the men of war are shot
And flags have fallen into dust,
Your cross and mine shall tell men still
Christ died on each, for both of us.

For in the wreckage of your April Christ lies slain,
And Christ weeps in the ruins of my spring:
The money of Whose tears shall fall
Into your weak and friendless hand,
And buy you back to your own land:

The silence of Whose tears shall fall
Like bells upon your alien tomb.
Hear them and come: they call you home.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Thomas Merton: first 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.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Francisco de Quevedo

Francisco de Quevedo (1580—1645) is considered to be the master satirist of Spain’s golden age. While still a student Quevedo’s writing caught the attention of Miguel de Cervantes. As gratifying as this was, his primary interest was to gain prominence through politics. For seven years Quevedo became dedicated to the service of the Duke de Osuna, who was conspiring to seize control of Venice. When Osuna’s plan failed, the Spanish government distanced itself from him, and by extension from Quevedo. Disillusioned with politics, Quevedo turned his attention to literature.

Quevedo developed a style of poetry called conceptismo, which began with a conceit — similar to his English contemporary John Donne — that would expand into an elaborate poem-length metaphor. Quevedo’s style features condensed simple language, as opposed to the ornate style of Luis de Góngora. Unfortunately, the rivalry between the two styles became a personal battle between the two men.

Francisco de Quevedo is known for the novel The Life Story of the Sharper, called Don Pablos — a precursor to the satirical novels of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The following was translated by Michael Smith

from On The Anvil – LVII

Adam in Eden, You in a garden;
He in all honour, You in your agony;
He sleeps and his company ill-watches;
You pray wide awake as yours slumbers.

His act was the first of disharmonies;
You composed our primordial day;
You drink the cup your Father sends;
He eats defiance and lives as dead.

The sweat of his brow is his sustenance;
That of yours is our glory:
The guilt was his, the affront yours.

He bequeathed horror; You leave us a memory;
His, a blind deceit; yours, a prime bargain.
How different the story you leave us!

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

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.