Monday, March 28, 2022

Muriel Nelson

Muriel Nelson lives near Seattle and is the author of three poetry books — Part Song (1999, Bear Star Press) and the chapbooks Most Wanted (2003), and Please Hold (2021). She has taught at Pierce College and Muckleshoot Tribal College — both in Washington State. Her poems have been extensively published in American literary journals.

One writer, Patricia Corbus, said, “In Please Hold there’s melody, jazzy dissonance, flashes of tonal change, freshness of sound and image.” This observation fits with Nelson’s background, since she studied music at Willamette University, and has received her Master of Musicology from the University of Illinois. She also received her MFA in Writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.

The following poem first appeared in The Christian Century.

Instead—musings on Psalm 42

If Herbert Howells hadn’t held a tune
in his ear as bombs kept falling on London,
if he hadn’t argued with himself—like
or as?—and come up with a tie (both),
if he hadn’t let his melody make more
of his awkward choice than the psalmist’s point,
we wouldn’t have the flowing rhythm of “Like as
the Hart” to carry us now, or occasion for our choir
to stop rehearsing and hear a pastor
muse that the ancients followed the hart (the heart)
which could sense unseen water (a diviner)
and lead a thirsty soul in hopes for a spring
into graceful deerlike ways of lifelong longing.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.