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Issue 107

Jessica Maria Hopkins’s post-cancer portraits. Katie Kresser on camp and an aesthetics of lack. Shane McCrae in Conversation with G.C. Waldrep. Joe Hoover on secular virtue, the Ignatian Exercises, and noticing God. B.D. McClay on longing and the problem with metaphors. Claire Latimer-Dennis on the creepy magnetism of charismatic prophecy. James K.A. Smith on James Baldwin. Curators Diana Nawi and Naima Keith on Prospect New Orleans. Painter Barbara Takenaga on collaborating with her materials. Daniel Drage on sculpture’s theology of negative space. Poems by Fady Joudah, Robert Fernandez, Kerri Webster, and more. Fiction by Pete Levine and Elyse Durham.

Healing the Imagination: Art Lessons from James Baldwin


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Our society is grappling with a soul-sickness that is ultimately an infection of our imagination. An election may address symptoms, but how do we treat the underlying disease? How to heal the imagination? Perhaps this is what the arts are for.

The Jordan Turned Its Back and Fled


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Yusef is so taken with the woman in black that he stares at her as she makes her way to the back of the van, and he forgets himself, and Iordannis has to remind him to start the van. Yusef decides right then and there that he will have her picture.

Floodlight


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Our bare hands redden as we work, / he high on the ladder cutting the old / connections, and I drilling / outlet hole through the siding.

An Extravagance


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He then went on, as if he were reading from a script, which I realized later he was, to list my severance package, which wouldn’t get me through the new year. It took me a second to realize someone from HR was in the office with him.

Globes


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Son’s / net-/ works / / veins under / the skin / of the dark / / call / see/ knock! / / a chandelier / glows / in the dark

Original Light: Post-Cancer Portraits


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Cancer has allowed me to view myself as a canvas; my body has been primed, stretched, cut, and painted. My blood is paint, the needle is the brush, and my body is the canvas.

“Corpses like night soil / get carted off”


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this is / not your tragedy this is / a scrap a slip a fragment/ a swatch of fabric cut / off the roll

Babel


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We played a word game on the mountain, / spelled cuneiform, spelled thoracic: / / the game’s strict rules / encourage motion / / up through thistles, saffron, / yellow stains

In the Studio


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I love how it changes color with different kinds of light—it’s a different image in the morning than in the evening. Or the color shifts as the viewer moves position. The painting has a little life of its own.

For Judith


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Katherine Mooney Brooks on art, illness, and the failures of the body

Lanugo


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A poem for Saint Wilgefortis, the bearded patron of women seeking liberation.

Field of Encounter: A Conversation with G.C. Waldrep


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It is one thing to write an inspirational poem about the raising of Lazarus, from this great distance in time and space, and another to be Lazarus: to be the one who is raised. I think any genuine religious art leads the reader (and presumably the writer) to a place of encounter, an encounter with radical otherness.

To a Shelf Fungus in Acadia National Park


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Is it possible / that your experience / is a form of joy? / Or a word for joy, / in an unspeakable / tongue.

Spritual Exercises in Jayville


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Jesus, is he everyone’s digits, the ends of your hairs, the wife not your own, the sexless nights, the bleeding snapvine, the Lysander leaf, the dish soap, the Council of Trent, Battle of Hastings, the pill, Saint Augustine, Saint Vincent, every couplet of Shakespeare’s and each child’s drowning nightmare—does he contain them all, things lovely or horrifying, is this him, all of everything stuffed inside? How does one bear such a man as this?

Mater Misericordiae


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I lifted the calendar from / / its nail and thumbed through the other Marys: / a stylish Guadalupe radiating needles / for October, Michelangelo’s marble / draped in the corpse of Christ for March

The Cleft in the Rock: A Theology of Negative Spaces


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And yet attentive artists and viewers understand that negative spaces are integral to compositions, and at times even the key to understanding them. From a theological perspective, they can constitute gateways to the sublime, eliciting a sense of more-than.

Mausoleum for a Scorpio


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‘Speak to us of poetry and politics,’ / he said to me from his seat in the audience / as I was on stage.

Curator’s Corner: Prospect New Orleans


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For many years the notion of spirituality in art seemed sort of taboo, but we’ve both consistently worked with artists who draw on notions of ritual, religious iconography, the otherworldly, and spirituality in their work or process.

An Aesthetic of Lack, or Notes on Camps


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Paschal could not leave his beloved mother’s head bare. How could he? For he knew that nature gapes with lack. He knew that we’re meant to be hooked up to something else, as if our skulls were plugs. Or to put it another way: he knew that all of us are amputees from moment we’re born.

Corcomroe Abbey


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Of course, we too came here / hoping to be cracked open, amazed.

Facts and Lies


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Sometimes it seems inane. A woman visiting my church one Sunday morning came up and told me she saw a picture of me in a beautiful yellow dress. That was it, the whole prophetic word. Me in a yellow dress.

Seer Stone


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Two women, in separate instances, each blessed and healed a child in her care. Neither of these women had ever discussed the blessing with anyone before for fear it would be considered “inappropriate.” Another woman gathered her sister’s frail, cancer-ridden body in her arms and blessed her with one pain-free day.

With My Body I Thee Worship


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Glück’s novel was a particularly poignant book to read this spring, when I found myself abruptly unable to touch another person, go to Mass, or receive the Eucharist. Lent rolled on without any anticipation of a liberatory Easter; then it was Easter, and I was still alone.

Last Words (Death Row, Texas)


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Last words from death row. “I love you endlessly, my honeybird.”

Ladders of Paradise


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do these monks with their straight lines / and right angles have the only franchise?

Pietà


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Your heart stands wide for all to enter in: it should have been a door for me alone.

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