Monday, September 4, 2017

Robert Siegel*

Robert Siegel (1939—2012) is one of the first poets whose work appeared as part of the Poiema Poetry Series. His collection Within This Tree of Bones (2013, Cascade Books) is his final book, his final selected collection, and the only book where the poems he was writing as he was nearing death appear. I am glad that, even though I did not know that he was battling cancer at the time, I encouraged him to add several more new poems to the collection than he had originally planned. I want to post again about Bob and his fine poetry, because his incredible talent and the beautiful legacy of Within This Tree of Bones has not received the attention it deserves; at least not yet.

This blog post is one small way I am seeking to encourage others to read Robert Siegel. Another is that I have included half a dozen of his poems in the anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poets(available here) and through Amazon.

As John Wilson, who was editor for Books & Culture, has eloquently said: "Robert Siegel is one of my favorite poets, and I'm frustrated that so many readers are unfamiliar with him. This handsome 'new and selected' volume is an ideal introduction to his work, and I may just resort to hawking it on street corners, like those ragamuffin kids peddling papers in old movies. You want the latest news? Read Within This Tree of Bones."

The Prodigal

She floated before him like a summer cloud,
pink and white through his sweat and then lay down
squealing, by her sucklings, a teat for each mouth.
The husks caught in his throat. If he'd only known
the pigs would have it better than he, he never...
He, ripe offal, stuck in the world's latrine!
—so he told himself over and over and over
and over again. With tears came a keen

ache in his chest. Next day he started home.
He tried to stop his thoughts, lethally busy,
but at night yearned for the slops and warmth of the barn,
the hogs' contented grunting and homely stink. Alone,
he knew he'd failed beyond all hope of mercy.
He didn't even see his father till wrapped in his arms.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Robert Siegel: first post, second 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.