Some Contemporary Christian Poetry: Seigel & Mariani

A Pentecost of Finches: New and Selected PoemsA Pentecost of Finches: New and Selected Poems by Robert Siegel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Siegel is what St. Francis might be like were St. Francis alive right now and writing contemporary poetry. There are lots of poems about animals here, and animals that you might not expect would be poem-worthy. A silverfish? A worm? A daddy-long-legs? But Siegel has an eye for the beauty in the everyday, which I guess you kind of need to be a poet. Not every poem captured me. Those that were most effective were those that read like hymns, and again he was reminiscent of St. Francis– calling the sun, the morning, the aroma of coffee and breakfast, the feel of a razor on the face, to praise the Lord.

Deaths and Transfigurations: PoemsDeaths and Transfigurations: Poems by Paul L. Mariani

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My final attempt at modern Christian poetry. I’m still rather lost, but I found quite a bit to enjoy in this short volume. Many of Mariani’s poems– as the title implies– revolve around death. There are pieces here that make you face the reality of death, as Mariani examines his father’s illness and decrepitude and final passing. Mariani himself is aging, and you feel this in his words– the realization that death comes for everyone: for his parents, for his wife’s parents, and somewhere on the horizon for him as well. Yet these are Christian deaths, and Mariani’s treatment works because it is not couched in common platitudes about hope and resurrection but simple, steady reflection on the Incarnation. The tone lightens near the volume’s conclusion, as Mariani includes odes written upon the weddings of his children. Death is a part of life, and Mariani’s poems hint at the deeper transfiguration of death itself as witnessed to in Catholic theology.

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