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Upholding Mystery: An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Poetry

Hardback|Mar 1997
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$89.99

Most readers of contemporary verse would agree with literary critic Helen Vendler that "there is no significant poet whose work does not mirror, both formally and in its preoccupations, the absence of the transcendent" - that no major modern poet...


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Most readers of contemporary verse would agree with literary critic Helen Vendler that "there is no significant poet whose work does not mirror, both formally and in its preoccupations, the absence of the transcendent" - that no major modern poet writes religious poetry. Indeed, the very idea that a vital Christian poetry might arise within our thoroughly secular culture seems almost inconceivable. Is it possible that a body of Christian poetry is now being produced whose literary merit is equal to its religious conviction? David Impastato's splendid anthology, Upholding Mystery, answers that question with a resounding and surprising "yes". From Andrew Hudgins's often humorous narratives to Geoffrey Hill's darkly impassioned lyrics, from Denise Levertov's incisive personal and political insights to Wendell Berry's lovely evocations of the divine presence in nature, Upholding Mystery offers readers a wide range of both poetic and spiritual satisfactions. Featuring only poets who are currently writing and publishing, the book provides generous selections of work by such well-known poets as Richard Wilbur, Annie Dillard, Daniel Berrigan, Les Murray, Louise Erdrich, and Kathleen Norris, along with the impressive though less known voices of David Craig, David Citino, Scott Cairns, Maura Eichner, and David Brendan Hopes. Together the anthology's fifteen poets have created what critic Jonathan Holden calls a "revolutionary core" of work that is recognized equally for the stature of its verse and for its illumination of the Christian ethos. By limiting the number of poets to fifteen rather than presenting the usual broad sampling, this unique collection allows readers to gain a thoroughfamiliarity with each poet's work to see the struggle, discovery, and transformation of the spiritual quest throughout an individual body of verse, yet still to see how each poet contributes to a vision of the sacred that can be un
-Publisher

Most readers of contemporary poetry would agree with literary critic Helen Vendler that "there is no significant poet whose work does not mirror, both formally and in its preoccupations, the absence of the transcendent"--that no major modern poet writes religious poetry. Indeed, the very idea that a vital Christian poetry might arise within our thoroughly secular culture seems almost inconceivable. Is it possible that a body of Christian poetry is now being produced whose literary merit is equal to its religious conviction? David Impastato's splendid anthology,Upholding Mystery, answers that question with a resounding and surprising "yes."
From Andrew Hudgins' often humorous narratives to Geoffery Hill's darkly impassioned lyrics, from Denise Levertov's incisive personal and political insights to Wendell Berry's lovely evocations of the divine presence in nature,Upholding Mysteryoffers readers a wide range of both poetic and spiritual satisfactions. Featuring only poets who are currently writing--including such well-known poets as Richard Wilbur, Annie Dillard, Daniel Berrigan, Les Murray, and Louise Erdrich, along with the impressive though less-known voices of David Craig, Scott Cairns, and David Brendan Hopes--this superb anthology provides generous selections of work that is admirable equally for the stature of its verse and for its illumination of the Christian ethos. By limiting the number of poets included, this collection allows readers to gain a thorough familiarity with each poet's work and to see how each struggles with, celebrates, and embodies a vision of the sacred throughout a personal body of verse. In addition, editor David Impastato provides brief, accessible, extremely helpful introductions that highlight the specifically Christian concerns of the poems, and he organizes the book into sections dealing with such topics as The Cross, Transformation, Injustice, Presence, Praise, The Mystical Body, and so on, thereby giving the reader a coherent theological journey as well as the pleasurable experience of the individual poems.
Here, then, is a contemporary encounter with Christian mystery, in poetry that is as vibrant, as compelling, and as meaningful as any being written today. David Impastato has done an invaluable service in showing that the transcendent is indeed alive and well in the hands of contemporary poets, despite reports to the contrary, and in gathering a dazzling array of poems that will appeal in equal measure to religious and literary readers alike.

-Publisher

PRODUCT DETAIL

David Impastato (Ed)

David Impastato has published on the subject of contemporary poetry, and his own poetry is soon to appear in The Sewanee Review. He worked for many years as a film director in Los Angeles, and is currently affiliated with the talking books program at the Library of Congress. He lives with his wifeýNancy in Alexandria, Virginia. They have two sons and two grandchildren.ý

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