Poetry

Brandon Hook 11-01-2012
Rachel Giese Brown

Mary Oliver has won a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Rachel Giese Brown

What’s the first thing you think of when you think poetry readings by a Poet Laureate and a Pullitzer Prize winner? Well, whatever it is, I’m sure you weren’t thinking dogs.

Nonetheless, pet dogs were brought up more than anything else during poetry readings by Billy Collins and Mary Oliver at the Strathmore in Bethesda, Md. on Sunday. They managed to bring up their dogs in a beautifully poetic way, of course.

But perhaps the most important take away from the evening came from Oliver during a question and answer time after the readings. She said something like this: “Pay attention. Be astonished. And tell about it. We’re soaked in distractions. The world didn’t have to be beautiful. We can and should think about that beauty and be grateful.”

Those are words I have tried to live by for the last year.

Both poets demonstrated that attention in their work — even in poems about dogs.  

Elvis O. Alves 10-03-2012

He uproots teeth primordial in nature and that eat his soul
with appetite the size of mercenary forces plundering a city

whose inhabitants do not fight back because most of them
are women, children, and animals that creep on all fours.

He knows of a city not spared and is without name, unlike Nineveh,
whose repentant king decreed:

Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth,
and they shall cry mightily to God.

He thinks of what to do but knows that he is not the prophet

Mark Hiskes 9-01-2012

About love she was all wrong, / the old capitalist, patron saint / of the self-made rich. How well / she misunderstood the paradox deep / as mothers’ grief:

Jennifer Grant 8-20-2012

I stepped down from the train,

Saw you there, old man, bent

Next to the Tudor station, smiling

And waving to me over the steering wheel.

Your aged blue eyes

Saw us through the maze of roads

 

Walled by high corn and close trees, roads

Which branch away from the train 

Station to the cottage, to your wife’s eyes

And worn wrinkled skin.  Her back bent

Over the low table.  You turn the wheel

And press the horn, she’s smiling,

the Web Editors 8-08-2012
Pádraig Ó Tuama. Image via Twitter.

Pádraig Ó Tuama. Image via Twitter.

Last Sunday, the Catholic singer/songwriter/poet/theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama (who hails from County Cork, Ireland), took to Revolution NYC's "barstool pulpit," to share stories, poems, and wisdom from the spiritual journey — his, yours, ours. 

Listen to Ó Tuama's talk inside the blog ... 

Maritza Rivera 7-01-2012

"There is nothing casual / about casualties of war."

Nicole Higgins 6-14-2012
FIRSTS image by sharpner/shutterstock with illustration by Cathleen Falsani.

FIRSTS image by sharpner/shutterstock with illustration by Cathleen Falsani.

I was thirteen years old, a freshman in high school. This was my first mission trip – a week of working in an elementary school in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

Inner-city urban experience, meet private-school-raised girl.

School grounds within the walls of my church, meet bars and constant police surveillance.

The students we were going to serve looked a lot like me, but I could not feel further from their experience 

 
Stacy Barton 5-08-2012

Outside
By Stacy Barton

I sit in the light of two fluorescent bulbs –
one flickering above the workbench,
the other swinging over the washer and dryer –
and wonder over my nest, soon bare.

Here in the garage,
with only the leftover laundry to stir my memory,
I find fewer cues to catapult my heart.

"Denial / This has nothing to do with blackness. / This has everything to do with blackness."

Joshua Witchger 4-09-2012

30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month, after Easter take a look at some of the sketchiest bunnies, post-apocalyptic artwork, Alec Baldwin interviews Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon revisits his news anchor position, "Walden Pond" to become a digital reality, robots make furniture, and 36 big names in their humble beginnings...   
 

Tim DeMay 4-08-2012
Photo via Getty Images.

Photo via Getty Images.

Poetry is language made material.

It presents us with objects and the world, yes, that is part of its materiality, but it also – and perhaps fundamentally – makes our very language into a thing, rather than simply a medium. Like remembering that you exist in time, and becoming aware of your temporality, poetry takes what we are always immersed in and says, Remember; become aware.

Thus it is like all art a meditative practice. You must slow down, quiet yourself, and actively receive – a strange gesture, perhaps paradoxical, but one that is, if nothing else, prayer. And so for Holy Week, I want to present four (mostly) contemporary poems that can direct meditation without limiting it, that can engage prayer in our physical existence and the existence of the Resurrection as event, that can slow one down, that can build sensual memory of the acts we do and life we live in constant remembrance of it, of Him.

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.
                                                                —Wordsworth         

Belle Fox-Martin 3-01-2012

We are the lay of the land— / pocked, hilled, knowing every ember / and seed imprinted on our bones.

Joshua Witchger 2-15-2012

A look at Poster Cred, the Seattle-based art project, Jesse Eisenberg shares his favorite memories of growing up with Jeremy Lin, "Food Rules," by Michael Pollan is born in stop animation, the new film from the writer of Slumdog Millionaire, and Allen Ginsberg vs. the Westminster Dog Show. All this and even more awesomeness... inside the blog.

Sarah Vanderveen 2-06-2012
Sarah Vanderveen heads in from surfing in her hometown.

Sarah Vanderveen heads in from surfing in her hometown.

A new poem by Sarah Vanderveen...

I pulled on my wetsuit
quick, quick
pausing to take note
of a new hole under the left arm, darnit
and paddled out.

R.M. Blair 2-01-2012

While he was in jail, two policemen / came to his apartment, took / all his books, sat at his kitchen table / drinking his coffee, and cut out / the forbidden words: kitchen / was first to go;

Sarah Vanderveen 1-27-2012
Photo by Sarah Vanderveen.

Photo by Sarah Vanderveen.

A new poem by Sarah Vanderveen

The Painting Lesson, and a Prayer
Two women in hats,
feet solidly planted in the damp grass,
lean toward a canvas
propped against an easel.
One woman dabs intently with a brush,
the other looks out at the ocean,
then makes a staccato gesture--

 

Cathleen Falsani 1-26-2012
Author Annie Dillard, standing in her writing shed, 1987. By Getty Images.

Author Annie Dillard, standing in her writing shed, 1987. By Getty Images.

When Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis departed on his three-month sabbatical at the beginning of January, I sent him a list of books, films and music that I thought would nourish his mind and spirit in, perhaps, different ways than the media he normally consumes do.

Jim's sabbatical — a true Sabbath in the literal sense — is designed to be a time of rest and, more importantly, rejuvenation. It will also be a creative time when he will be working on a new book.

Jim is a creative. A writer. A visionary. He regularly digs deep into his heart and soul, breaks himself open and pours out his passion, hope and faith for the edification of others. If creatives aren't diligent, though, we can work ourselves into the ground. Our wells can run dry.

In sending Jim this list of what I like to think of as "soul food," I hoped to inspire his imagination and give him new fuel for the fire, if you will.

Robert Hirschfield 1-01-2012

Orange Alert: Essays on Poetry, Art, and the Architecture of Silence. And, Fasting For Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice.

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