I have a great deal to share with you this month, including news about the little volume pictured above as well as several new works linked to in the images below.
So, first, the Benedict XVI Institute has been commissioning poems from me over the last several years. Readers of The River of the Immaculate Conception will recall that that entire volume was written in honor of Frank La Rocca's Mass of the Americas, and that both the mass setting and my poem were commissioned by the Institute. I have continued to write occasional poems, including "In Memory of the North American Martyrs" and, most recently, an "Offertory Hymn for Ukraine." The first was one of two poems I wrote for the Year of St. Junipero Serra and the American Saints, the second was written specifically for Frank LaRocca as a text for music. LaRocca has since composed a setting for the first three stanzas of the hymn, which made its world premiere in Toronto this last September and which will make its American premiere early next year as part of a new mass setting.
Two Poems for Martyrs contains the complete text of both poems, including stanzas that were not included in the LaRocca setting. The Institute has published this limited edition booklet as a gift for their donors. They have generously given me a small number of copies to sell as a way of raising support for my ongoing work as a poet. The book is small but beautifully produced; and by small I mean my fourteen-year-old, James Augustine, read the whole thing standing in our front hall with his backpack still on. He did say, however, that it took him longer to read it than he expected and that he could hear the iambs, so I am consoled.
I am offering ten signed copies for those who are interested in supporting my work. I ask for $15 (postage included) as a starting donation for this little keepsake. Simply write me on my CONTACT page to learn more.
Just below, you'll find three new works of mine, each of which is a first in one way or another. "Vanished Fire" will be the penultimate poem in my next book, but here it is in the pages of Plough. It is written in the most complex stanza form I have yet used (this one borrowed from Shelley). "Sweet Land of Michigan" is an essay I have waited nearly two decades to be able to write -- and with satisfaction, I have now not only written it but published it as my first-ever cover article in First Things. After years of writing poems and reviews for that journal, it was a pleasure to join the lead articles. Finally, National Review has just published my review of the new biography and collected poems of Anthony Hecht. If the art of poetry ever fully regains its bearings in the coming decades, Hecht along with Richard Wilbur will be the two poets who spanned the abyss and kept the present in touch with the past while keeping the poetic tradition a live and agile. This review is the first time I have written about Hecht since one of my first scholarly articles was published more than a decade ago; and, since so few people actually read scholarly articles, this is effectively the first time most readers will have heard me reflect on one of the Old Masters of American verse.
Click the icons below to read, or click over to the CONTACT page to learn more about Two Poems for Martyrs.
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