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The Paraclete Poetry Anthology.


Edited by Mark S. Burrows (Paraclete Press, 2016)

"Poems," writes anthology editor Mark S. Burrows, "guide us on our way through language's epiphanies, releasing us at least momentarily from our tutelage in the workday realm of prose." Like prayer, poetry requires the authentic participation of a reader, which makes this anthology an excellent literary and spiritual companion. Diverse works from noted poets such as Scott Cairns, Phyllis Tickle, Paul Mariani, and Rainer Maria Rilke are placed next to emerging writers of faith like William Woolfitt, whose verses about Blessed Charles Eugene de Foucauld are particularly moving.

At nearly 200 pages, the anthology is generous and expansive. Some poems are especially notable. "Feed My Sheep" by Cairns, a master of pacing and white space on the page, could be read as a daily examen. "As we have all denied him," the speaker ponders, we must ask if we love God--and if the answer is yes, then "we must rise up, set out to feed his lambs." Greg Miller's "Into the Wilderness" is a sharp lament about his "hilly heart," and the recognition of his "winding ways." The speaker recalls Gerard Manley Hopkins' ode to wildness, as Miller concludes that his soul is "not yet exhausted, wondrously winding."

Rabbi Rami Shapiro's "Language Matters" implores readers to "clean up your language and / see things as they are." Anna Kamienska's translated selections are gorgeous and perceptive, with quotable lines that make the reader want to jot them on paper and keep in the pocket. "Gratitude is a scattered / homeless love." "Our weaknesses are the way to God." She can also shock the reader out of complacency, as in "A Prayer That Will Be Answered," which ends with the lines "And let my poem be transparent as a windowpane / against which a straying bee hits its head." A fine argument for the importance of spiritual poetry.

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Author:Ripatrazone, Nick
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Date:May 1, 2017
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