Hearing the Franciscan Beat
Readers of The Catholic Imagination in Modern American Poetry will remember my brief discussion of the confessional poetry of David Craig. That little monograph will eventually serve as the introduction to a much larger book that I have been working on for years, at this point called Catholicism and Modern American Poetry. As I prepare that book, I get the pleasant opportunity to write at greater length on those poets I mentioned in the earlier one. I wrote on Dana Gioia last spring, and now I have published a more substantial essay on Craig's poetry, one which I suspect will provoke a few readers. From the essay:
"In the last of the Matthew Sonnets, Craig says to his son Jude, who has Downs Syndrome, “You know, I’m really not very learned.” Jude replies, “Me neither, Dad.” It is a funny, loving, and beautiful moment. And yet, it is clear that Craig is not just a Franciscan but a poetic Fraticelli. He seems deeply suspicious of all poetic artifice and of all elevated learning. His style is relentlessly bare, the vocabulary and range of references demotic with only the partial exception of his invocations of the literature of Catholic popular piety. A well-balanced, complex sentence whose rhythms do not trip over their own feet would seem a dangerous sign of luxury and risk invalidating his own ordination as a particular kind of poet."
Click the book cover above to read the whole thing.
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