Elegy for Trains
Village Books Press, 2010
94 pp., $15.00
Silver Roses (Karen & Michael Braziller Books)
104 pp., $16.50
Per Aage Brandt
Host Publications, 2011
183 pp., $30.00
Stranger in a Strange Land: John Wilson
(descartes in practice)
Some of Brandt's poems refer to "religion" in deprecating ways. There is one, for instance, that starts like this: "when people love god and one another it is / easier for them to chop people's heads off." A few lines later, the poem concludes thus: "I wish we could have a more relaxed relationship / towards the immortals, maybe it would re- / verse our relations with mortal heads." I find the idea of Per Aage Brandt as he is sketched in Satterlee's introduction very interesting. The poems themselves, for this reader at least, were only intermittently of interest.
Easy to forget, for the moment, that these three poets—and others whose books sit close at hand, Sarah Vap and Faulkner's Rosary (Saturnalia Books); L. S. Klatt and Cloud of Ink (Univ. of Iowa Press), to which Stan Guthrie and I devoted a podcast in the first week of April; Brett Foster and The Garbage Eater (Northwestern Univ. Press), his first collection—all inhabit the same world, and that we do, too.
We are led back to Benjamin Myers and his poem "On Taking Communion with My Students":
Let greasy spikes be caught in halos
thrown from chapel windows
and the lazy shuffle of saints
trace the body of Christ down the chapel alley.
Let this one,
eyes avoiding mine
like two blackbirds in sudden flight,
And let this one,
absent a week
only to resurface
as the sinking vessel rises
one last time from ocean's deep midnight,
The wind empties itself
outside the chapel,
madly hurls the vowels and consonants
collected all its lifetime
at the stones.
I hear on the gale
from the morning's lecture:
the world is text.
I, too, am reading it for the first time.
Copyright © 2011 by the author or Christianity Today/Books & Culture magazine.
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