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Epistles: Poems
     

Epistles: Poems

by Mark Jarman
 

“To read this book is to be reminded of how many major poems have their root in prayer.”—Grace Schulman

“The thirty prose poems that make up Epistles are as compellingly modern in their form as they are timeless in their quest for spiritual truths amid radical doubts.”—David Lehman

These are compellingly modern prose

Overview

“To read this book is to be reminded of how many major poems have their root in prayer.”—Grace Schulman

“The thirty prose poems that make up Epistles are as compellingly modern in their form as they are timeless in their quest for spiritual truths amid radical doubts.”—David Lehman

These are compellingly modern prose poems in the style of Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians.

Mark Jarman’s book The Black Riviera won the 1991 Poets’ Prize. Questions for Ecclesiastes was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award. Jarman is a professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Known in the 1980s as a New Formalist-a crusader for traditional rhymes and meters-the prolific and thoughtful Jarman now attracts more attention as a poet of Christian belief. That belief, its relevance to everyday life, and its implications for a literary style become the constant topic for this set of 30 gentle prose poems, their interests and occasionally their phrasings taken from the Epistles of St. Paul. Jarman searches for connections between the next world and the one all around us, between the ideas he pursues and the life he sees: "There is no formula for bliss," he says early on, "yet why not pretend there is?" Welcoming paragraphs and insistent sentences all but invite readers to pray along with Jarman, or at least they make clear what he derives from prayer: "at the meeting, the assembly of the lost where we are heading, our heaven will be desert distance, dunes of self-denial." Anxious (and well-informed) about modern science, always personal if rarely autobiographical, Jarman may imagine this volume not only as a book of prose poetry, but as a meditative religious aid; "the objects of God's love," he concludes, "are more numerous than we can ever hope to accept." Whatever its fate as contemporary poetry, this heartfelt volume could find a substantial following among readers who seek intelligent short essays about their faith. (Oct.)

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Library Journal

"Let this be like the prayer that God will always answer. The one that/ gives thanks for everything and asks for nothing." In his ninth book of poems (after To the Green Man), Jarman uses the expansiveness of prose to create a series of epistles in which he speaks to the reader and, in Whitmanesque manner, perhaps to the world. Many poems adhere to St. Paul's biblical writings, which are often instructive, suggesting that readers, "Do the impossible. Restore life to those you have killed, wholeness to/ those you have maimed." Many poems consider subjects taken from the headlines, while others reflect complicated abstractions like bliss, attachment, death, and paradoxes of being and not-questions asked and sometimes answered. In juxtaposition to religious spirituality, Jarman uses mathematics and science to create metaphors about belief. "We live in the hollow of immense desire./ Life ends with a bonus, the means to our death. We are added to zero,/ then multiplied by it." While most of the poems explore faith in its many manifestations, there is something here transcendent that speaks to everyone. Highly recommended.
—Karla Huston

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781932511529
Publisher:
Sarabande Books
Publication date:
10/01/2007
Pages:
112
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Mark Jarman is a professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently To the Green Man, published by Sarabande. His book The Black Riviera won the 1991 Poets' Prize. Questions for Ecclesiastes was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award and won the 1998 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.

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