Image by Kimberly Farmer

Sara Beth West

(@fiftytwowest)

is a reader and a writer, offering book reviews and interviews with leading writers and thinkers.

On Sundays We Read Poetry

I've been picking up and putting down Christian Wiman's Survival is a Style for many moons now, but that is not for lack of admiration or enjoyment. Sometimes, a particular poem would hit so hard, I would have to just walk away for awhile. A collection that does that is always worth your time.


Finishing today, I've decided to try something new. Each Sunday, I will post a brief introduction to a collection I've been loving. I'll include one poem that I think really sings. No review. No need. If it's here, you'll know I recommend it. If you have one to recommend (yours or someone else's), send it along. I'll do my best to be here every Sunday.



Survival is a Style ranges between humor and pain, faith and doubt. Which is to say, Survival is a Style is about real life, alternately broken and beautiful. My favorite poem in the collection is the long and achingly lovely "The Parable of Perfect Silence," which begins


Today I woke and believed in nothing.

A grief at once intimate and unfelt,

like the death of a good friend's dog.


It is a portrait of a family and of a man and of the life that comes from brokenness, and it is a poem that would make the whole collection worthwhile even if it wasn't already. Too long to include it all here, please accept "And Someone Wrote it Down" instead.


I read about a bomber whose favorite fruit was dates.

Somewhere, in the annihilating light and the no-time-to-cries,

amid the sudden silica of the market stalls,

the whirlwinded bones and the misted viscera: dates.

A brother said he'd loved them. Said it, I imagine,

with the same lonely catatonia of the saint

when God withdraws, and the withdraws His withdrawal,

until there's nothing but a word for what had been the world.

Someone picked up the pieces. Someone scrubbed the blood.

Someone clung to something human, and someone wrote it down.


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The best books spark the best conversations! If you have thoughts to share, please feel free to email me at sarabethwest52@gmail.com. I promise a reply.

Every Wednesday, I send out something of a hodgepodge of ideas, a gathering of thoughts on books, culture, and unexpected moments of joy. Sign up here to stay in the loop!

The best books spark the best conversations! If you have thoughts to share, please feel free to send me a message. I promise a reply. 

 

Every Wednesday, I send out something of a hodgepodge of ideas, a gathering of thoughts on books, culture, and unexpected moments of joy. Sign up here to stay in the loop!

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