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Camp Meeting

By Marilyn Nelson Poetry

Old Saybrook, Connecticut, April 1827 Wealthy Ann, Ruhama, Othelia, Harriet, Hipsey, and I took the ferry to the big camp meeting in Old Saybrook, where ten famous preachers took turns exhorting us to find Jesus and to serve him by serving each other. The crowd swarmed like ants taking breadcrumbs home. Wealthy Ann said smelling…

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Uncomfortable Things

By Marilyn Nelson Poetry

e.g. Abolition, Prudence Crandall, the Amistad, Nat Turner, Indian Removal, Female Complaints: First Congregational Church, Lyme, Connecticut, ca. 1816 Even the pulpit Bible was consumed in the fire that turned the meeting-house to ash. An architect planned the new meeting-house, a steeple equipped with a lightning-rod, a belfry, and a golden weathervane; Ionic columns supporting…

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Meeting-House Fire

By Marilyn Nelson Poetry

_________Lyme, Connecticut, 3 July 1815 Nor’easter and calm shine, high tide and neap, combined lives shuttled between births and deaths, from baptisms to funerals, amen. Mehitabel, Uriah, Moses, John. Robert, Elihu, Azanaha, Love. Wakes, marriages, fallings-out and laughter, arguments, broken hearts, betrayals, guilt: thus time shaped a community of faith. Jerusha, Wealthy, Esther, Hepzibah. Moses,…

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The Contemplative Life

By Marilyn Nelson Poetry

Abba Jacob said: Contemplation is both the highest act of being human, and humanity’s highest language. If the language of things reaches beyond things to designate the Absolute, the silent interior mantra bespeaks a profound communion with that Someone further than ourselves— and communion within ourselves, for the two go together. When we meditate, we…

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A Conversation with Marilyn Nelson

By Jeanne Murray Walker Interview

The daughter of a Tuskegee Airman and a teacher, Marilyn Nelson was brought up primarily on military bases and started writing while still in elementary school. She earned her BA from the University of California, Davis, and holds postgraduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (MA, 1970) and the University of Minnesota (PhD, 1979). Her…

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