Monday, February 20, 2012

Marilyn Nelson

Marilyn Nelson is a Lutheran poet whose collections have, three times, been finalists for the National Book Award — including The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems (1997). She served as poet laureate of Connecticut from 2001 to 2006. In a recent interview with Jeanne Murray Walker for Image, she said that some of those who most influenced her early writing were the Harlem Renaissance poets, such as Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes, and other African American poets.

She is also known as a children's book author; at first, some of her adult poetry was published as books for younger readers — including Carver: A Life in Poems, a spiritual biography of George Washington Carver (2001), and Fortune's Bones (2004). She has now also intentionally written books for children.

The following poems are from her collection, Magnificat (1994).

Incomplete Renunciation

Please let me have
a 10-room house adjacent to campus;
6 bdrooms, 2½ baths, formal
dining room, frplace, family room,
screened porch, 2-car garage.
Well maintained.
And let it pass
through the eye of a needle.


So many cars have driven past me
without a head-on collision.
I started counting them today:
there were a hundred and nine
on the way to the grocery,
a hundred and two on the way back home.
I got my license
when I was seventeen.
I’ve driven across country
at least twelve times;
I even drive
late Saturday nights.
I shall not want.

(Posted with permission of the poet)

This is the first Kingdom Poets post about Marilyn Nelson: second post

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: