Monday, June 12, 2023

Zach Czaia

Zach Czaia is a Minneapolis poet with two collections available: Saint Paul Lives Here (in Minnesota) (2015, Wipf & Stock) and his recent Knucklehead: poems (2021, Nodin Press). He has been teaching high school English for several years.

In Knucklehead, Czaia speaks honestly of his life ― at one point looking back to his first year of teaching high school down in Belize, where the boys called him Dante since he was leading the group of seventeen-year-olds through Inferno ― at another time reflecting self-deprecatingly on himself as a husband ― at yet another being overwhelmed by the murder of George Floyd, in part, because it happened in his own backyard.

He hosts a new poetry podcast called “Open Your Hands” where he reads a contemporary poem, and interacts with it. One recent episode features Mark Jarman’s poem “Questions For Ecclesiastes.”

The following Zach Czaia poem first appeared in Ekstasis and is from Knucklehead.

Saint Paul Talks Strategy

So I went down to a potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. Whenever the vessel he was making went wrong, as clay is apt to do in a potter’s hand, he would remake it in a different shape, such as he thought suitable. — Jeremiah 18:3-4

It’s a go-to, I’ll admit it,
the potter at his wheel. I say,
“I’m the stuff in his hands, the clay—
a pot gone wrong, he remade it,
remade me, my life.” The prophet
knows more than I do. Hearts don’t change
that much from age to age, the range
of feelings the same now as then.
We’re all still waiting for the moment when
these hearts we carry don’t feel so strange.

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.