Tuesday Poetry and Essay.

One of the odd things about saying to yourself that you will find poems and put them up is that you run out of the stuff you know very quickly, or find, just as quickly, it is under copyright. So you if efficient (read lazy) look at what critics are writing, and whom they recommend.

Paradoxically, the old stuff is much easier. Donne is a Pimp, and Herbert does not suck. The old stuff is tested, true, and the main effort is working how words, like fish, twist in the their meanings by the zeitgeist as if it was a current.

But there is a certain sense of priggishness here, to be avoided. Though the essayist points us towards some good poetry, there is this impatience: you are always reading the old stuff. But it is better.

I’m always a little sad after a poetry reading when someone comes up and tells me they’re “really into Christian poets,” and when I ask excitedly “which ones?” they rattle off a short list that ends with Gerard Manley Hopkins or George Herbert. Not that those poets aren’t required reading—absolute masters of the form and of the heart’s hows—but because there is so much good crop still being pulled from the fertile fields of theologically inflected verse. I always wish I carried around a backpack full of books by Mark Jarman, or Jennifer Maier, or Dana Gioia, to thrust into their readerly hands, beaming, “It’s still happening!” It would be a kind of ministry, edifying the body thus.

Read the essay: there are five American Poets mentioned.

Now, having said all this, here is Wiman, who edits Poetry and is about as good as modern poetry gets. Besides, this is from his book called Hard Night. This blog is called Dark Brightness because the theology that appears bleak is not, and that which is shiny is often fake. Wiman knows that.

Darkness Starts

A shadow in the shape of a house
slides out of a house
and loses its shape on the lawn.

Trees seek each other
as the wind within them dies.

Darkness starts inside of things
but keeps on going when the things are gone.

Barefoot careless in the farthest parts of the yard
children become their cries.

Christian Wiman