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During National Poetry Month, I’m on the lookout for Catholic poets who might want a bit of promoting. It’s easy for the dead poets – they are safely in the canon, and people can recommend the best of them knowing others have vetted their work (and that they didn’t do anything too embarassing before they died). Then there are the Poets Who Have Made It – the Dana Gioias, Denise Levertovs, Paul Marianis, Christian Wimans and other truly fine poets who really don’t need publicity. I’m looking for those in the middle, whose poetry I have admired, or who have been highly recommended as up-and-comers.
I don’t have any academic credentials to back up my taste in poetry – just my own response to this or that poem I’ve seen. I do have an aversion to poetry that seems to be mere prose chopped into ‘poetic’ looking lines. I dislike super sappy sweetness and sing-song verse. I prefer poets who seem to be conveying a personal experience – even if of some doctrinal truth, or eternal verity – over those who seem to be looking at experience from the outside and using it as material for a class in poetry. I like to be surprised, blessed, challenged to read it again, or to feel a universal ‘yes’ on entering a poet’s particularity of lived encounter with realities – even small ones. I dislike propaganda intensely – using poetry as a vehicle to preach at me sends your poem right to the bottom of the stack.
I discovered some amateur Catholic poets on CatholicPlanet. From this loooong list, I read at least one poem by every poet – whew! I picked a few I’d like to share, and am investigating whether the poets have books out they’d like to have me buy and give away to my readers. I liked:
A Prayer for Humilty, by Diane Allen who has written some books of stories about Padre Pio, but doesn’t seem to have a book of her poetry out just yet.
Exodus Revisited, by W.H. Smaw who hasn’t a book out.
Annunciation, by Stephen Wentworth Arndt, who has translated Dante and put lots of lovely poetry out for free on Catholic Planet, but doesn’t seem to have a volume of his own work out yet.
So, I’ve ordered some other books by Catholic poets, and the following ones are ready to give away to the first person who asks (simply comment here, or email me: Speaker@CharlotteOstermann.com).
Just ask for your free copy of:
Pavel Chichikov’s So Tell Us, Christ (I link here to the books on Amazon just so you can see them, but I will mail you the free copy myself).
Kathryn Mulderink’s To Sing You Must Exhale
Ruth Asch’s Reflections
I like a number of poems already in each of these books. Particularly Chichikov’s Bring Us Up, It Is Near, and As From My Emptiness; Mulderink’s Signals and Didymus; and Asch’s Baptism by Fire and End of a Day. I hope you’ll enjoy these poems and have the poets’ names in your hearts as you pray for artists now and then.
I’m still looking. Do you have favorites? I found Mark Shea recommending Bruce Newman and discovered Philip Kolin somewhere in all my searching. I’ve ordered books of poetry by Christopher Kelder, Sarah de Nordwall and Kevin Casey to give you. I should note that I’ve ordered my own copy, too, of each of these!
Is anyone out there teaching poetry? I have two copies of Place of Passage: Contemporary Catholic Poetry to give away that would be lovely for a survey. They include some deads (Merton, Wojtyla), some stars (Mariani, Gioia), and some up-and-comers, for which I thank the editors, David Craig (who once, in an online poetry workshop, said he’d like to have written a couple of the lines in my poem John’s Song…just sayin’) and Janet McCann.
Naturally, my offer still stands to send up to ten copies of my own A Destiny to Burn to anyone who asks. Bless you for reading one and giving away the others with a word about how critically important poetry is for human being!
One final word: This giveaway will appear in an upcoming update of my 25 Ways to Help an Artist: The Art of Low-Cost Philanthropy. The total cost to me will be less than $200, and that counts as “low-cost” in the world of art promotions. I hope you’ll do it too, plus at least 24 other things, to help along the Catholic artists who are giving themselves back to the Church, through the Church to the world, and to other artists and students of art by doing what they do.
One of my all-time favorite poets agrees with me that poetry needs to be heard.
“…poetry is the darling child of speech. …it must be spoken: till it is spoken it is not performed, it does not perform, it is not itself.” Gerard Manley Hopkins
I’m doing my part by making recordings of my poems available here.
Meanwhile, it would be so great if, during National Poetry Month, you would take a poem and read it aloud. Any poem! I firmly believe that, unless we recover a taste for poetry, an ear for poetic speech, a soul in-formed by poems, we will greatly lack capacity for Christ. The Eucharist will be the same yesterday, today, and forever, but we must cultivate capacity to receive it.
Enter, poetry. Poems are one expression of poesis – the making of form, the realizing of ideas. Poems are one form that word takes when someone is trying to communicate more than words can say. As such, they have the potential of preparing our hearts to receive the meaning that lies within forms, within words, within the Eucharist and the Word of God.
My offer still stands: up to ten free copies of A Destiny to Burn for those who will give them away during National Poetry Month. Every day should be ‘poetry day’ for Christians, but while the world still has a poetry month, shouldn’t we people of the Word be its most enthusiastic supporters? In the month to come, I’ll be giving away volumes of poetry by Pavel Chichikov, Ruth Asch, Christopher Kelder, Malcolm Guite, Kathryn Mulderink, and other living Catholic poets, and subscriptions to some magazines that publish contemporary Catholic poetry. Will you help promote my promotion??
Please subscribe to this blog to keep abreast of the offers.
For your copies of A Destiny to Burn, use the form below, or email me: Speaker@CharlotteOstermann.com.
Poetry, Wow! No foolin’? What a great month!
Do you get excited about poetry? It may be a lost art, but for one month you could help revive it. I’m making this my month to find and patronize living Catholic poets. The dead ones get more press, naturally, so we living ones need the boost.
I’ve just published my own volume of poetry, A Destiny to Burn, and will give (yes, that’s FREE) up to ten copies to anyone who will give them away. You can keep one copy for yourself. Just email Speaker@CharlotteOstermann.com, or use the contact form, below. I will not keep your information, or monetize our relationship in any way! This is an actual gift. I need to know how many copies, and your name and physical address.
Watch this space for April give-aways of subscriptions to magazines that publish poetry, books of poetry by the living Catholic poets I discover, and more.
THANKS for your interest in promoting Catholic poetry!
You can also find A Destiny to Burn at Amazon.com.
Here are my recordings of all the poems in this volume. Most of the poems are still right here on this site under the “Catholic Poet” tab at the top.
From every corner of the world of home education, I pulled images of how ‘our school’ might be – most of them in conflict with each other, and none a perfect picture of how ‘our school’ actually was.
I could see our classical school – kids neatly dressed, friends over for chess and dialectic – turning out scholars like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. I dreamed of “Lifestyle Learning,” with education tucked into every moment of the day – museum-like collections on every flat surface, illustrated notebooks for each subject, a microscope at hand in the kitchen, backpacks always ready with nature journals and good pencils.
Unit Study seemed so appealing. We could be immersed in the Middle Ages via salt dough, period costumes, Usborne books and stew in stale-bread trenchers. The Fast Track had its appeal, too. I pictured my kids pointed to The End via a series of neatly ordered lessons. The only limit to their release into freedom would be their personally chosen speed of attack. They might say things like, “If I get my Phd, will you buy me a new bike?” Their own incentives would move them forward almost effortlessly and we’d have a stack of tests and certificates to prove what they had accomplished.
Unschooling was a lot like a “learning lifestyle,” but easier yet, because it would be “delight-directed” and require no record-keeping. We’d practically live at the library. At home, I’d happen upon children engrossed in projects of their own choosing. I’d try not to point out the educational value, and keep them supplied with high-quality tools and materials in timely fashion. We’d bake…we’d travel…we’d garden…or, not.
The way it actually turned out was a strange and changing mix I called “Eclectic” to make it sound more like “Education.” New babies kept throwing us ‘off our groove,’ but in a good way. Just as I hit my stride, they all grew up and went on into college…or, not. The thing I miss most – oh, ouch…. – is reading aloud to them. I know I could have done a lot better at many aspects of homeschooling, but overall, I’ve enjoyed these years and been happy with the results. Meanwhile, I got an education along the way that is a priceless treasure.