Monday, April 30, 2018

Jeff Gundy

Jeff Gundy is a Mennonite poet originally from Illinois. He is professor of English and Creative Writing at Bluffton University where he’s served since 1984. On the strength of his collection Somewhere Near Defiance (Anhinga Press) he was honoured as Ohio Poet of the Year 2014. His latest collection is Abandoned Homeland (2016, Bottom Dog Press).

He spent his recent sabbatical teaching and writing at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

The following poem first appeared in Christian Century.

Calm Sunday in Klaipeda

It was the holy part of the day, my loved ones asleep
in other countries, me with no duties and rooms
full of quiet. I ate my dark bread with brie and jam,
pressed out two cups of dark coffee. And that
must be the sun, skulking like a grown-up boy who knows
it’s been too long since he visited his mother. He has
no excuse but all is forgiven, she will open the curtains,
haul up the shades, crack the windows though it’s
far too cold for that. We will ring all the bells
in the quiet church across the street, unscrew
the doors from the jambs, dismantle all the borders,
forgive the Russians whether they like it or not.
And mercy will pour down like sunshine in the grand
photographs in the vast inscrutable book I bought
for ten euros at the bookstore downtown, a store
full of books translated out of the language I know
so that I could read only the authors’ names.
Truth must be personal, said Kierkegaard, home
from another of his long, brooding walks. And yet
not merely private. You shall love the neighbor,
he insisted. Outside my window the church is solid
and pale, three stories and a squat round tower,
in the tower three narrow windows that reveal
nothing. Winter sun warms the green roof,
but the entrance is still in shadow.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Edvard Kocbek

Edvard Kocbek (1904—1981) is a Slovenian Catholic poet and essayist. In his youth he joined the Sloven Christian Socialists, and by 1937 had written a controversial article criticizing the Spanish clergy for supporting Franco in the Spanish Civil War. In seeking to resist the fascist threat, Kocbek became associated with the Communist party of Slovenia, and eventually held a minor position in the government of Yugoslavia.

His 1951 short story collection Fear and Courage, however, dealt with issues the Slovenian partisans had faced during WWII. The Communist government reacted strongly against it — banning him from publishing or appearing in public. It wasn’t until 1964 that he was permitted to begin publishing again. The newer modernist poems he began publishing at this time became very influential on the new generation of poets writing in the Slovenian language. Encyclopedia Britannica describes him as “one of the finest of Slovene writers.”

The following is from Nothing Is Lost: Selected Poems, translated by Michael Scammell and Veno Taufer (Princeton University Press).

O Noise of Waters, Collapse of the Universe


O noise of waters, collapse of the universe,
woman, put your ear to my side,
yonder stretches eternal solemnity, hold my
hand, I cannot tell you how
thunderous is this magnificence, clasp me tight
bright death is bursting my body, my eyes
see no more, my ears hear no more,
my heart spills onto the nocturnal grass,
the heaving wind tears at me, I fall sweetly apart,
the earth is not finished yet. O terrible
Son of the living God, I mutely implore you, help
me in my love.

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Alexis Kagame

Alexis Kagame (1912—1981) is a Rwandan poet, priest, historian, and philosopher. He was born into a long line of court historians. He extensively researched the oral history, traditions and literature of Rwanda — particularly its dynastic court poetry. At various points the Belgian colonial authorities found his views working against their purposes. In the early 1950s his bishop was persuaded to reassign him to Rome, to lessen his influence.

Kagame’s masterwork is the epic poem The Singer of the Lord of Creation (1950), written in the Kinyarwanda language, and translated By Kagame himself, into French. He also translated The Bible into Kinyarwanda. He became one of the first professors at the new University of Rwanda in 1963.

From The Singer of the Lord of Creation

Then Lucifer made up his mind: he would
rebel against the Lord. He sought a place
in space that would be suitable for war.
He had a vague presentiment that God
might be like that innocent-looking sheep
which suddenly became a thundercloud.
The rebel Lucifer began by God’s
command to shrivel, but he did not die.
His angel’s wings contracted like a bat’s
from white they turned an ugly black. A smell
of putrefaction emanates from him
that sickens men. He limps into the war
joining his comrades who became like cats.
They are accursed: they all have leprosy.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Julie L. Moore*

Julie L. Moore is Associate Professor of English, and the Writing Center Director at Taylor University in Indiana. Her life has recently gone through major changes — a move from Cedarville University in Ohio to Taylor, and more significantly the dissolution of a marriage she was completely committed to. Such an experience naturally impacts the voice of the poet in her new collection, Full Worm Moon. Moore is daring; she's unafraid to share her experience of the darkness, and yet to find hope in the beauty and goodness still present in her life.

I have been privileged to be Julie's editor for both Full Worm Moon, and her previous collection, Particular Scandals, both of which are part of the Poiema Poetry Series (Cascade Books). I am also pleased to have included her poems in both of my recent anthologies — The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse. All of these books are available through Wipf & Stock.

Anya Krugovoy Silver reflects on this new collection: “‘What if the beautiful day is over?’ wonders Julie Moore in her shattering new collection, Full Worm Moon. And indeed, poems about the end of a marriage wring the reader. . . Amidst the world’s disarray, Moore’s playful wit and exultant language ultimately proclaim the persistence of tenderness, peace, and love.”

The following poem is from Full Worm Moon.

Compline

St. Meinrad Archabbey

Forgive me my faults, my faults, my grievous faults,
she recites with the Benedictines preparing
for evening’s darkening shroud—

her husband’s figure standing erect
in her memory, his finger pointing at her,
threatening her, his once-sure vows

now dead, their hazy specters
prowling the hallways of her heart,
their long fingernails raking its walls.

While she chants—words, just words,
& barely sung—the Lord’s Prayer
stumbles onto her tongue: forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Not even an hour, nor is it sweet,
this prayer that arrests her,

exorcising the ghosts of promises past,
their furious, furious haunting.

Posted with permission of the poet.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Julie L. Moore: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Malcolm Guite*

Malcolm Guite is an English formalist poet, who is chaplain at Girton College, Cambridge, and teaches at the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge University. He is author of several books, including two poetry anthologies for Lent and Advent, as well as Mariner: A Voyage with Samuel Taylor Coleridge (2017, Hodder & Stoughton): his analysis of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

I met with him last fall in Hamilton, Ontario — the city his family had moved to when he was crossing into adolescence, before he was sent to boarding school in England to preserve his British identity. It was a delight, to drive him through Hamilton streets which he began to recognize from his youth.

During his terrible boarding school experience his worldview shifted from Christianity to existentialism. However, by his final year of graduate studies at Pembroke College, Cambridge, he re-engaged with Christian faith through his experience of beauty in the romantic poets, the religious significance of historic sites he had visited, and through a paper he had written analyzing the Psalms.

Guite participates in many events in Britain and North America related to C.S. Lewis scholarship, and has collaborated and toured with Canadian musician Steve Bell. The following poem is from his third full-length poetry collection Parable and Paradox, which appeared from Canterbury Press in 2016.

I AM The Resurrection

John 11.25: I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in
me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.


How can you be the final resurrection?
That resurrection hasn’t happened yet.
Our broken world is still bent on destruction,
No sun can rise before that sun has set.
Our faith looks back to father Abraham
And forward to the one who is to come
How can you speak as though he knew your name?
How can you say: before he was I am?

Begin in me and I will read your riddle
And teach you truths my Spirit will defend
I am the End who meets you in the middle,
The new Beginning hidden in the End.
I am the victory, the end of strife
I am the resurrection and the life.


Posted with permission of the poet.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Malcolm Guite: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.