27 March 2007

The New Poets

Poets, historically, have been the force that guides a society's thoughts, habits, tastes, asthetics, politics and direction. The cultural rivers are held in their hands.

Ancient societies relied on the poets in much the same way that our post-modern culture looks to ours. Sadly though, many of our current (and most popular) poets rarely delve deeper into the human psyche than what kind of cola drink will make us thinner or cooler, or which sunglass manufacturer has our chic lifestyle in mind. In short, today's poets are often market driven in their subject matter. And the cultural rivers are held in their hands.

It's been said that Christianity has the best poets. (This, by someone who obviously does not watch Access Hollywood or read The National Inquirer while she waits in line at the grocery store.)
When you think about it though, it's true. Who really has something to wax poetic about, EXCEPT the Christian? The mystery of the Creator's love for His creation is inspiration for a sonnet, a cinquain, a haiku. The unfathomable sacrifice of that Creator for his beloved creation is worth nothing less than an epic poem. The beauty and grace we enjoy under His redemption is... well... O, for a thousand tongues to sing. And even then we wouldn't be scratching the surface.

Our society spends a lot more time listening to market-driven poets than it spends listening to poets saying something of eternal significance. Christians included. Me included. So, I'm interested in broadening my experience of poetry with some new poets. Poets saying something important. Not advertising something, saying something.


One of my new favorite people saying something is, Abby. She's early on in her career, but has such a lyrical way of weaving imagery while remaining rooted in solid theology. This girl's words could weave a tapestry out of rocks! A particularly good piece- Already Shining. Read more of her writing on her blog: Credo ut Intelligam.


Share with me a favorite poet that speaks to your soul and spirit (all media types are fair game). Please leave their name, work titles, and maybe a line or two of theirs that you really appreciate. I'm interested in newbies or centuries-old pillars of the faith, because it's likely that I've not read, heard or seen their work except in passing.

8 Comments:

Blogger San said...

Poets: George Herbert, John Milton (esp. "On Blindness"), Dante, Dorothy L. Sayers, T. S. Eliot (esp. "The Four Quartets"), Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, John Donne (esp. "Batter My Heart, O Three-Personed God"), Shakespeare (sonnets), Wordsworth, Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Luci Shaw, Shel Silverstein. Get ahold of PBS's "Voices and Visions" video series on eBay. Great home schooling stuff to give your kids an intro to poets. They include bio info and some of their poetry. As you can see, I have too many faves to give a lot of details.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Christianne said...

I already recommended this one over at Mary DeMuth's site (she's doing a blog series of sorts about poetry, too), but one poet I return to over and over again is Denise Levertov. She's a modern poet (1960s-1990s) who published a lot of collections. The one most pertinent to YOU is her collection of religious poems, called "The Stream and the Sapphire." It has helped form the very shape of my heart and soul in manifold ways.

One of my favorite lines is: "Adam palpates the void / Multiplicity, his despair" though I may not be remembering it perfectly.

You need to get this little chapbook and read it again and again.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

One of my favorite poems is Robert Herrick's To the Virgins to Make Much of Time (Gather ye rosebuds while ye may...)
Love William Blake.
And, of course, Shel Silverstein. Who couldn't love his Saturday poem or his one about the junk collector?

10:53 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

John Leax, Tabloid News...

He used the market tabloids as grist for poems like...

"Duck Hunters Shoot Angel"

I think the poems are redemptive in that they reach into the heart of our hopes and fears and add a touch of grace to them.

3:38 PM  
Blogger gretalynn said...

Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, William Blake, Walt Whitman, and...and...oh, how can I choose? Octavio Paz shows up on the list, too, but only in Spanish. Translated poems somehow lose something of their depth.

One of my most favorite poems of all time: somewhere i have never travelled (by e.e. cummings).

Then, of course, there's also the simple splendid line, "Put me like a seal over your heart" taken from Song of Solomon 8:6.

Perhaps out of all the poets out there, the one that charms me most is the young girl that stayed behind in the little composition book stacked away in a closet in Dinwiddie somewhere. Her open, honest struggles bared by scrawlings on blank pages will always remind me of who I was and how far God has brought me on this journey with Him.

6:55 PM  
Blogger gretalynn said...

And, a lesser known poet I have recently come to enjoy is Ruth Bell Graham, Billy Graham's wife. I just read her book Footprints of a Pilgrim. At first I thought I wouldn't like her poetry due to my "the-lines-don't-have-to-rhyme" snobbery, but as I read the pages, I stood amazed at her insight to life as a woman of God.

In a poem on motherhood (one of the non-rhyming ones, by the way) she writes:

O Thou
Who seest the heart's
true, deep, desire
each shortcoming and
each sad mistake,
supplement
and
overrule,
nor let our children be
the victims of our own
unlikeness unto Thee.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

Sometimes you make me want to cry. Thank you, that's very sweet of you. I'm glad God can use my blabber to encourage you...and I've TOTALLY taken your "tapestry out of rocks" as a challenge. Not so simple, but I'm working on it.

I like a lot of what's already been suggested (T.S. Eliot, Dorothy Sayers, E.E. Cummings, Dickinson) but John Keats is also one of my favorites. He died pretty young, but man was he good!

And hymn writers really knew how to put words together. Talk about poetry that grabs your soul.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Those of you checking in here so you can hit the streets with your own list of new poets, here's one of Abby's best lines, (in my opinion)

"... in an inexplicable act of both grace and mercy, He sent part of Himself, one of Himself, to be the Presence in the Absence."
- from Already Shining


I took a long road trip last weekend and here's a bit of (musical) poetry I enjoyed along the journey.

"You take away the pen writing out my every sin.
You burn the book of my rebellion. You tear the pages holding everything that I regret.
How You forgive me, Jesus."

-By Enter the Worship Circle
Album: Third Circle
Song: How You Forgive Me


"It is easy to insist
On what is packaged and precise
And dismiss the clear suspicion
That You're bigger than we'd like
It is tempting to regard You as familiar
In so many ways

I've tried to draw these lines around You
A definition or an absolute
But i could not be satisfied with black or white
There is so much more
There is so much You."

-By Nichole Nordeman
Album: Wide Eyed
Song: Who You Are



I'm making a list, checking it twice, and heading to my library tomorrow! :) Keep adding, I'm always interested in more.

9:31 PM  

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