Saturday, February 11, 2012

Selections on faith and poetry from Poetry Magazine Feb '12

"I started going to Mass on brief experimental forays when I was a teenager and a close friend went to church. Then I took instruction from an Episcopal priest when I was nineteen in California, between trips to North Beach to listen to jazz and poetry. I wanted the world to be both magical and full of meaning. I was scared of what drugs did to my friends. I haven't ever used drugs, though now I would love to bite a hash brownie. I was always in a state of shock or awe at existing. It was inevitable I would end up a Catholic, and a lover of all religious literature and acts from around the world. Simone Weil said Catholicism is a religion for slaves. She meant it as a great compliment." --Fanny Howe

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"I can't imagine writing poetry outside the very large architecture faith affords….The question I more often ask myself is not about the relationship between faith and poetry, but rather the relationship between prayer and poetry. They're not the same, by any means, though there is some intrinsic relationship. Sometimes I speculate the two are like adjacent apartments in the same building: when you're in one, you have no direct access to the other, but if you listen closely you can hear sounds--sometimes muffled, sometimes sharp--coming from the other side of the connecting wall.


One does not invite the Holy Spirit into one's life and expect it to operate on one's own terms, as a sort of butler to the soul….I gradually, quietly started making the cultural changes I had long dreaded, not because I wanted to, but because I couldn't bear any longer not to make them.


For me, a serious commitment to faith--a living faith, within an orthodox tradition such as conservative Anabaptism--meant that certain questions were settled, if not in my heart, then in the wider sense of how and what the world is. Moving within and among those settled questions, as a subjective human intelligence and a sensual being, is a freedom. You could say that the tenets of faith provide something like conceptual constraint, though "constraint" is not the word I would use and certainly not how it feels to me, any more than a physical building is a constraint, if one moves in and around it."

--G.C. Waldrep

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"I suspect that the actual writing, the continuous writing, the writing over and over again, the commitment, is a kind of devotion. Maybe it's not the devotion of a priest; it is certainly the devotion of a mourner."
--Gerald Stern

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"And because I love this life, I know I shall love death as well. The child cries out when from the right breast the mother takes it away to find in the very next moment its consolation in the left one."
--Rabindranath Tagore

4 comments:

BettyDuffy said...

Anyone else want to bite a hash brownie?

Pentimento said...

Um, yes, me.

Melanie B said...

That last one from Tagore hit me between the eyes. Partly it's that I'm sitting here nursing Anthony, having just switched him from one side to the other. But more because it fits with my recent musings about death.

BettyDuffy said...

The Fanny Howe quote was kind of all over the place, but I did think the hash part of it was provocative-- the mystical urge seeks an outlet, and I have to admit, biting hash brownies sounds much easier than meditation.

That last one hit me too.