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I Will Sing Your Praise

By Richard ChessMarch 14, 2018

For a few years in the late 1990s, early 2000s, I brought a book of poetry with me whenever I went to synagogue for Shabbat morning services. After I was settled into my pew, I’d discreetly slip the book out of my tallis (prayer shawl) bag, tuck the thin volume of poetry inside the thick…

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As I Lay (Nearly) Dying

By Peggy RosenthalMarch 6, 2018

At first I didn’t know that I was dying. I’d been rushed to the hospital emergency department because I couldn’t breathe, put on oxygen and wheeled right to Intensive Care. The week or so in ICU is a blur now. But ICU must have been where it was discovered that my kidneys were failing—because I…

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In a Funk

By Tania RunyanFebruary 8, 2018

You’re not sorry you’re alive, just embarrassed. Aware of the burden of your body. How often do saltshakers tremble when you cross your unwieldy legs under the table? How many times do you hug an acquaintance too soon and feel their shoulders droop like dead wings? You don’t want to die. You want everyone to…

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Poetry Friday: “Speculation: Along the Way”

By Scott CairnsNovember 3, 2017

Did you ever try finding words for the experience of prayer? Or for the sense of mysterious contact with the divine? That’s what Scott Cairns is attempting in “Speculation: Along the Way.” He tries out a metaphor of a distant thunderstorm — which might however be within. “Might” is in fact a key word in…

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Poetry Friday: “Notre Dame”

By Fleda BrownOctober 27, 2017

I love it when poems speak to each other and expand on a shared theme. The epigraph here references the well-known poem “Church Going” by Phillip Larkin. Both poems describe churches, their architecture and unique interiors. However, they also explore more universal questions about the role and relevance of organized religion. Brown doesn’t mince words.…

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Poetry Friday: “Russian Bell”

By Anya SilverSeptember 8, 2017

In this stirring poem by Anya Silver, the bell becomes a blueprint. First, the bell shape is transposed on her own body dangling freely in the “arc and blur” of a rope swing. Then, it becomes her open mouth and uvula. And, finally, we see the heart as a shattered peony (“unpeeling, pealing”) dropping petals…

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Poetry Friday: “The Psalm of Your Face”

By Nicholas SamarasSeptember 1, 2017

“Lord, let…”: this is how nearly every sentence of Nicholas Samaras’s “The Psalm of Your Face” begins. It’s our own constant plea to God: Lord, let my neighbor be healed of cancer; Lord, let my son be safe in battle. In Samaras’s poem, the pleas “Lord, let…” are first focused on God’s imagined face. But…

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Poetry Friday: “My Life as an Open-Air Temple”

By Sharon DolinAugust 4, 2017

In Dolin’s poem we wake up abruptly inside the walls of an ancient temple. Walls are all we have to orient ourselves here in this place, which is without roof or pillars. “I don’t know how” this transformation took place, the unnamed speaker confesses almost shyly, but suddenly she seems to have so much space…

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Practicing Presence, Part 2

By Gregory WolfeJune 27, 2017

The following two-part post was originally delivered as the 2017 commencement address for Trinity Academy in Portland, Oregon. Read yesterday’s installment here. As you graduates well know, one of the most popular genres in books these days is the dystopia. Dystopia can be a powerful and revelatory form of writing, one that prophetically criticizes harmful…

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Poetry Friday: “Prayer”

By Sharon CumberlandJune 16, 2017

I used to collect poems that are prayers, so Sharon Cumberland’s “Prayer” immediately leapt out at me from the pages if Image. Leapt out—but then instantly grabbed me uncomfortably in the opening line: “Ignore, O Mystery, this thing You made.” The speaker’s plea to God is not for connection but for separation. Why? Because, as…

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