Monday, May 1, 2023

Lisa Russ Spaar

Lisa Russ Spaar is an American poet, and a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. Her most-recent poetry collection is Madrigalia: New and Selected Poems (2021, Persea), which consists both of poems from her previous five books, and a generous display of 43 new “Madrigals” or sonnet-like poems. Her debut novel Paradise Close appeared in 2022.

She often writes interrelated poems. The journal Image says of her series of poems where she’s selected insomnia as a focus, [They] “offer a frank and nuanced picture of our laboring toward transcendence, our grief and longing over our distance from our maker, but also our love for the world with which we are so marvelously entangled.”

The following poem first appeared in Image, was awarded a 2016 Pushcart Prize, and is from her book Orexia (2017, Persea). The Latin epigraph ― from the Christmas carol Gaudete Christus est Natus ― appears in translation, italicized, within the poem itself.

Temple Gaudete

-----Deus homo factus est
-----Natura mirante.

Is love the start of a journey back?
If so, back where, & make it holy.

Saint Cerulean Warbler, blue blur,
heart on the lam, courses arterial branches,

combing up & down, embolic,
while inside I punch down & fold a floe

of dough to make it later rise.
On the box, medieval voices, polyphonic,

God has become man, to the wonderment
of Nature.
Simple to say: there is gash,

then balm. Admit we love the abyss,
our mouths sipping it in one another.

At the feeder now. Back to the cherry, quick,
song’s burden, rejoice, rejoice.

O salve & knife. Too simple to say
we begin as mouths, angry swack,

lungs flooded with a blue foreseeing.
Story that can save us only through the body.

Posted with permission of the poet.

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.