Monday, January 7, 2019

Barbara Crooker*

Barbara Crooker is a Pennsylvania poet who has just had her eighth poetry collection, The Book of Kells, published, as part of the Poiema Poetry Series from Cascade Books. It is, of course, inspired by the ninth century manuscript of the four Gospels known as The Book of Kells: “Ireland's greatest cultural treasure and the world's most famous medieval manuscript.”

She received a writing fellowship at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, County Monaghan, Ireland. While in Ireland she meditated on pages of the Book of Kells in the Long Library, Trinity College, Dublin. She also remotely studied various pages which are now accessible online.

The Book of Kells is the second Barbara Crooker book I have been fortunate enough to edit with her. She has also had a poem recently appear in my new web-journal Poems For Ephesians, which is on the McMaster Divinity College website.

The following poem first appeared in Presence, and is from The Book of Kells.

Trinity College, the Book of Kells

10/19/13 page of the day: Portrait of St. John, folio 291v and 292r

In a dim room, the Gospel of John rises, pure gold
in the gloom: In the beginning was the word,
and the word was made flesh.
John’s seated
on a throne of ultramarine, haloed
in plaits of light. He’s my tribe, a scribe,
notebook in one hand, pen in the other. Around him,
tattooed in vellum, interlace knots, no beginning
or end. The more I stare in this darkness,
the less I see, patterns too small for my retinae,
these aging eyes. Made from pigments of verdigris,
orpiment, lampblack and woad, is it a vision,
or merely a dream? Metalwork or woven ribbons,
this is the universe recast as pattern, and I draw in
a breath, Word of God on my tongue.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Barbara Crooker: first post, second post, fourth post.

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.