Monday, March 11, 2024

Jesse Keith Butler

Jesse Keith Butler is an Orthodox Christian poet who has recently published his first collection, The Living Law, with Darkly Bright Press. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and two children.

By day, Jesse is a program evaluator for the Government of Canada, assessing the effectiveness of government programs in relation to their objectives. He previously did a PhD in education, during which time he published widely in academic journals on the topics of citizenship education, educational policy, and Indigenous education. Jesse and his wife also have a long history of working with Indigenous communities, including two summers spent working with a Christian organization on a First Nations reserve in northern Ontario.

A.M. Juster has written, "With this debut collection, Jesse Butler is joining the growing group of Canadian poets who are taking poetry away from the academy and returning it to a broader audience of poetry lovers. Butler's poems are thoughtful, well-crafted, and a pleasure to read."

The following poem has previously appeared in Solum Journal, and is from The Living Law (2024, Darkly Bright Press).

Villanelle of the Elect

So Jacob was loved, and Esau was hated.
It seems like a bit of an uneven deal.
You won’t stop creating this world you’ve created.

If Esau had hope it was quickly deflated.
The subtle supplanter had him by the heel.
But Jacob was loved, and Esau was hated.

Outside of the city, with heaven ungated
and rungs reaching down, Jacob glimpsed what was real—
you still were creating this world you’d created.

Poor Esau found Jacob’s thin soup overrated
when robbed of his birthright for one meatless meal.
Yet Jacob was loved, and Esau was hated.

You grappled with Jacob. He grunted and grated
while you danced, delighted to meet with such zeal
as you kept creating this world you’d created.

There’s purpose in life but the path isn’t fated.
You unspool these urgings we don’t even feel.
And Jacob was loved. And Esau was hated.
You keep on creating this world you’ve created.

Posted with permission of the poet.

This post was first suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

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.