Monday, December 12, 2016

Sarah Klassen*

Sarah Klassen is a Manitoba poet and writer who has won several awards, including the Gerald Lampert Award for her debut collection Journey to Yalta (1988), and a National Magazine Gold Award for poetry (2000). She lives in Winnipeg where, in the 1990s, she edited the Mennonite women's magazine Sophia. Her seventh poetry book — which I consider to be her best yet — is Monstrance (2012, Turnstone Press). Her novel, The Wittenbergs, was published by Turnstone in 2013.

She is one of the poets featured in my new anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry, which came out in November. (available here)

The following poem is from Monstrance.

Night sky at Deep Bay

Midnight, and the sky above the lake
ablaze with a zillion fires lit while I slept.
Each flame a declaration, each solemn planet bright.
I tilt my head way back, and there's The Milky Way,
there's Cassiopeia, Orion, Ursa Major the Pleiades,
a whole bright host.

Years ago while snow fell quietly on Latvia,
I entered the majestic Riga Dom.
From the balcony a choir sang, a capella,
from Schubert's Deutsche Messe,
the Sanctus.

The Baltic Sea slept
while the sanctuary's hushed, cold corners
overflowed with: Holy, Holy, Holy
and our eyes with tears.

On the beach tonight I shiver, not with cold,
but overcome—unwitting witness
to the firmament's explosion—with astonishment.
As if the host of Bethlehem's angels
and the celestial Latvian voices joined
to wake the midnight world
with radiant, resounding Glorias.

(When I am old or ill
will all the stars be there, still
burning, still untarnished,
declaring truth and beauty
are not dead, not even dormant?
And will that choir sing?)

Posted with permission of the poet.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Sarah Klassen: 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.