Tag Archives: The Sage Ones

5 Female Poets of Faith

gardenia NOLAOne thing the world needs is for more people to read poetry. Especially from female writers of a certain age who identify as people of faith. I hope you enjoy this small round up and hope you’ll take the time to read more of their work via the links provided. You will be richer for it.

–Abigail Carroll

Photo:  Julian Russell

That I Might Dwell

That I might dwell in warbler
song, in fields of sorrel, fields
of stars, that dwelling in your
house I’d know, I’d rest, I’d play
at wonder. Oh that I might dwell

in pine-branched shade, among
the sway, among the praise of oak-fern,                                                                                        granite, jay nest, spruce—
among the shadow-dance of leaves,
the breeze unpinning doubt, all

apathy, all hollow hours, all fears.
Oh may I dwell in reverence here,
and dwelling in your house, I’ll
wait, I’ll pray, I’ll lay this body
down on what you’ve dreamed,

on what you’ve sung, spliced, spun,
twined, embroidered, breathed.
And dwelling in your house I’ll
know the peace of moss, the moth-                                                                                                    winged hush of unhinged awe,

musk of sage, gaze of deer. Oh let
me lose myself in rooms of fox-                                                                                                          glove, cowslip, wild plum, wren—
that I might taste the sleep of loam,
that I might tenant beauty here.

from Habitation of Wonder by Abigail Carroll (Wipf & Stock 2018)

Abigail Carroll is a poet and author whose most recent book, Habitation of Wonder (Wipf & Stock, 2018), is an offering of poems that travels the intersection of the natural landscape and the landscape of spirit. A Gathering of Larks: Letters to Saint Francis from a Modern-Day Pilgrim (Eerdmans, 2017), has been called “sparked with joy and stitched with whimsy” by the Chicago Tribune, and Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal (Basic Books, 2013), was a finalist for the Zocalo Public Square Book Prize.

Click here for Abigail’s website.

–Barbara Crooker

IRELAND

A brown hare washes her face

in the lane while the hare in the moon

looks on.  The hare in the moon

carries an egg, new cycle of life

that comes in the spring.  But now,

it’s autumn, the sky closing in,

fir trees inking footprints

on the gray silk sky.  A luminous sky,

tattered with crows.  Two swans,

ruffled lilies, float in the lake’s bright bowl.

Some fairy’s touched all the trees overnight,

turned them orange, yellow, and red.  All of

the green fields are clotted with sheep.  What

is the world, but the body of God?

from The Book of Kells by Barbara Crooker (Cascade Books, 2019)

Barbara Crooker and I first met in person at the Seattle AWP Conference in 2014. I’d just read one of her poems in a collection “How to Read a Poem” (TSPoetry Press) and gushed about how much I loved it. Barbara’s been writing a long time and is an inspiration to me personally as her persistence in publishing has blessed the world with so much beautiful poetry. 

Her 8th volume The Book of Kells from Cascade books, has just been released. From the back cover: “In her work, Crooker considers the struggle to pin lines to the page, to tie experience to the written word, to wrestle between faith and doubt, to accept the aging body as it tries to be fully alive in the world. Crooker contrasts the age of faith, when the Book of Kells was created, to our modern age of doubt, and uses as her foundation the old stones of Irish myth and lore from pre-Christian times. Above all, she captures the awe that the word inspired in preliterate times: “The world was the Book of God. The alphabet shimmered and buzzed with beauty.””

You can read more about Barbara and her work on her website.

–Jeanne Murray Walker

STAYING POWER

In appreciation of Maxim Gorky at the International convention of Atheists.  1929

Like Gorky, I sometimes follow my doubts

outside and question the metal sky,

longing to have the fight settled, thinking

I can’t go on like this, and finally I say

all right, it is improbable, all right, there

is no God.  And then as if I’m focusing

a magnifying glass on dry leaves, God blazes up.

It’s the attention, maybe, to what isn’t

there that makes the notion flare like

a forest fire until I have to spend the afternoon

spraying it with the hose to put it out.  Even

on an ordinary day when a friend calls,

tells me they’ve found melanoma,

complains that the hospital is cold, I whisper, God.

God, I say as my heart turns inside out.

Pick up any language by the scruff of its neck,

wipe its face, set it down on the lawn,

and I bet it will toddle right into the godfire

again, which–though they say it doesn’t

exist—can send you straight to the burn unit.

Oh, we have only so many words to think with.

Say God’s not fire, say anything, say God’s

a phone, maybe.  You know you didn’t order a phone,

but there it is.  It rings.  You don’t know who it could be.

You don’t want to talk, so you pull out

the plug.  It rings.  You smash it with a hammer

till it bleeds springs and coils and clobbered up

metal bits.  It rings again.  You pick it up

and a voice you love whispers hello.

Jeanne Murray Walker is a writer and teacher born in Parkers Prairie, a village of a thousand people in Minnesota.  She frequently lectures, gives readings, and teaches workshops in places ranging from The Library of Congress and Oxford University to Whidbey Island, WA, from a working fish camp in Alaska and  Texas canyon country to Orvieto, Italy. She taught at The University of Delaware for 40 years, where she headed the Creative Writing Concentration..  She also serves as a Mentor in the Seattle Pacific University Master of Fine Arts Program. 

Jeanne’s newest release is from Paraclete Press, Pilgrim, You Find the Path by Walking, a collection of 50 sonnets in contemporary language.

Click  here for Jeanne’s website.

–Laurie Klein

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St. Kevin’s Blackbird

Outstretched in Lent, Kevin’s hand

did not expect

the blackbird’s egg, its speckled warmth,

new-laid, in his uplifted palm. Think prayer

as nest: an intimate travail whereby

fledgling hopes, like birds, leave behind

a kind of grave. Amen, seeming

premature, the saint-in-waiting

dovetailed faith with knuckles.

And afterward, did he save those eggshell bits,

adorn his windowsill with each goodbye

the smallest beak ever made?

He never said. Nor will he

know these hearts of ours,

more shell than shelter,

as they fissure, let in light enough

for Christ to enter. Yes,

let grief be, with every breath, a readied womb.

from “Where the Sky Opens” (Wipf & Stock, 2015)

Laurie Klein is the author of Where the Sky Opens (Wipf & Stock, 2015) and the prize-winning chapbook Bodies of Water, Bodies of Flesh. She also wrote the classic praise chorus “I Love You, Lord” forty-three years ago, “weary and bone-lonely…while our first child slept.”

Laurie’s poems and prose have appeared in many publications, including Ascent, The Southern Review, Ruminate, Atlanta Review, Terrain, and the Holman Personal Worship Bible. She is a recipient of the Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred. She lives with her husband near their daughters and a growing group of grandchildren in Eastern Washington. You can connect with her on Facebook and at www.lauriekleinscribe.com.

–Marjorie Maddox 

Photo Credit: Thad Meckley

Eucharist

Host

the small circle of face

we see by

in light of wine

the sliver of why

that bends the bones

begs “Come!”

the orbed cross

bright in the palm

of the poor

the crucified moon

nailed high

on the night of tongue

Chalice

To sip is to sing the Amen

into veins, sweeten

the soured tongue.

But first: lips

pursed with it,

hollowed mouth brimming

with want.

This is the swallowing

of what spewed out: spears

stuck long in the side,

thorns thick in the skin.

No trickle.

A Hallelujah

torrent down the throat.

Marjorie Maddox is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania. She has published eleven collections of poetry, most recently the  re-released Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation, about her father’s heart transplant. Some of her other titles include What She Was Saying (stories) from Fomite Press, Wives’ Tales (poems) from Seven Kitchens Press, and True, False, None of the Above from Cascade Books’ Poeima Poetry Series, as well as Local News from Someplace Else (about living in an unsafe world).

Marjorie lives with her husband and two children in Williamsport, Pa., birthplace of Little League and home of the Little League World Series. She is the great grandniece of baseball legend Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who helped break the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson.

Click here for Marjorie’s website. 

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Tell me, whose poetry are you reading these days?

Preview of Coming Attractions~Soon(ish)

watch this space

Well, not this space exactly. Like space space. But this space–jodyleecollins dot com.

As many of you know (if you’re signed up for my newsletter) I am revamping my website and going on hiatus for the month of August, and by “August” I mean starting now.
Lots of spiffing up to do on the way to a whole new look. All of that takes brain power. And time.

To that end– a spanking new website–this in-between phase is like opening the door of a magic cupboard and stepping into something surprising on the other side. But first I have to open the door and take the first step. Then the next. And do super-exciting work like delete 192 miscellaneous ‘tags’ from my blog essays. And choose font sizes. And integrate email subscriber services. (I’m not even sure what that means.) Yep, glamourous and surprising, eh?

I’m also preparing to be gone for a week–July 29th-August 5th–to the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, sponsored by Image Magazine at Seattle Pacific. This will be my first visit to “The Glen,” as it’s fondly called. The gathering is a 7-day immersion into the world of writing and talking and connecting with like-minded Christian poets, artists and writers from across the country. I am very much looking forward to this birthday gift to myself (August 10th; thanks for asking) and getting to meet British poet extraordinaire, Malcolm Guite.

I only have so many brain cells currently available for those endeavors, so I’m pressing the ‘pause’ button for about 6 weeks.

So What Can You Expect?

In addition to featuring faith writers of color via interviews–“5 Questions For…” and telling my readers about female faith writers over 50–The Sage Ones–the new website will include lots of ‘Listicles’–articles in a list form. 
Things like:
Three Non Profits I Know and Love
Five Writer Tools I Can’t be Without
10 Female Christian Poets You Should Know
5 Tips for Uber Novices

I’m super-practical about giving people tools to succeed in their gifts and calling. With that in mind, I’d like jodyleecollins.com to be a bulletin board of sorts, a place to Inform, Encourage and Inspire, as well as become a go-to resource for other Christian writers and bloggers.

God’s continuing to confirm His call and gifting and my life as an Cheerleader, Encourager and Connector. If you’re a writer, I want to help your work shine. There will be information and how-to’s like Self-Publishing 101, where to submit your work and how to write a query/pitch. What to consider when you’re launching a book….and more.

I will still have my current Editing Services page if you’d like to hire me to review your works in progress.

There will also be a new Speaker page featuring past topics and events and how and where people can contact me to share at their gatherings.

And, my Most Fun Idea yet, a Photography page. I enjoy snapping photos of sunsets, flowers, water and sky, what-have-you and while I post most of that over on Instagram I’d like to feature a landing page with slides and music. 
My uber-talented web gal Gretchen is helping with all the magic. We hope to be back online and in the blogosphere by September 1st.
See you then!
——-
P.S. You can sign up for my newsletter “Random Acts of Writing” right here.