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Poetry Friday: “Walking on Water in Venice”

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Anyone who’s visited a city far from daily familiars—surrounded by new language, customs, landscapes, and cuisine—knows how the senses seem on high alert, including our acknowledgment that we inhabit a physical body attempting to maneuver all of the above with grace and even confidence. Here, Jean Janzen’s speaker revisits a romanticized location known for its…

Waiting for Nothing to Happen

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When I was in my twenties, toward the end of a not-especially-dissolute but nonetheless untethered youth, there was a period of a few months when I spent a lot of time with a man who had been the big local rock DJ when I was in high school. He had moved into my threadbare downtown…

Morning in a Forgotten Neighborhood

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The other day it was raining. The clouds were impossibly low, skimming the tops of buildings as they scuttled across eastern Michigan on their way to somewhere nice. The rain fell not so much as drops but as a fine, coating mist that moistened rather than drenched. A pack of stray dogs picked their way…

Poetry Friday: “Lord, Sky”

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The compelling narrative of “Lord, Sky,” set during the time of an election, is also sheer poetry. The writer repeats diction (“light,” “sky,” “moon,” “grin”) and layers language (“heaven,” “rainbow,” “stars,” “night,” “midnight”) to invite us “little trees of heaven / stuck in concrete” to pay heed to the world above and around us, to…

Humans Love Heroes

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In the video James Corden approaches a podium wearing a dark grey suit and a light grey wig to address a room full of reporters, but instead of making prepared remarks, he launches into song. He’s announcing his indictment of the President, and he and his audience are thrilled. “Robert Mueller’s Indictment Song” is the…

On Writing Odes: Taking Time to Celebrate

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Amidst the constant stream of bad news these days, we would do well to make more time for acknowledging the good things in life. The ode is just that: “a formal, often ceremonious lyric poem that addresses and often celebrates a person, place, thing, or idea,” according to The Poetry Foundation. Unlike other poetic forms…

Poetry Friday: “The Burned Butterfly”

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My oldest daughter’s was gifted a butterfly garden for her 3rd birthday. We watched the six larvae plump up. Then each formed a chrysalis and after a few weeks all emerged as beautiful, painted lady butterflies. We fed them watermelon and pineapple and when the day came for release, I wasn’t sure my daughter would…

Why Wouldn’t I Be Fine?

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“You OK?” my husband Craig touches my hand, looks at me. We’re in the car, Sunday evening, driving home. Something shifts inside me, like sand. This experience of having him check in with me is new. After almost fifty years of practice, I’m so used to saying fine that I don’t always feel what I’m…

The Lost Goodbye

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You’ve been gone for only hours In a casket made of wood When no one else could save you I thought maybe I still could —“Goodbye” by Sister Sinjin The song catches me off-guard. It is nudged between other songs on an album of ethereal harmonies. Sister Sinjin sounds either like a trio of cloistered…

A Conversation with Alicia Ostriker: Part 2

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“When I write a poem, I am crawling into the dark. Or else I am an aperture. Something needs to be put into language, and it chooses me,” says critic, activist, and biblical scholar Alicia Ostriker, whose poetry appears in Image’s recently released issue #98. We asked Ostriker, winner of the Jewish National Book Award…

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For the humanists of the Renaissance, literature mattered because it was concrete and experiential—it grounded ideas in people’s lives. Their name for this kind of writing was bonae litterae, a phrase we’ve borrowed as the title for our blog. Every weekday, one of the gifted writers on our blogging team will offer a personal essay that makes a fresh connection between the world of faith and the world of daily life, spanning the gap between theology and experience and giving language a human shape.

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