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Upholding Mystery: An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Poetry [Hardcover]

By David Impastato (Editor)
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Item description for Upholding Mystery: An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Poetry by David Impastato...

From Andrew Hudgins' often humorous narratives to Geoffrey Hill's darkly impassioned lyrics to Wendell Berry's lovely evocations of the divine presence in nature, this splendid anthology presents a generous selection of poetry that is admirable equally for the stature of its verse and for its illumination of the Christian ethos.

Publishers Description
Most readers of contemporary poetry would agree with literary critic Helen Vendler that "there is no significant poet whose work does not mirror, both formally and in its preoccupations, the absence of the transcendent"--that no major modern poet writes religious poetry. Indeed, the very idea that a vital Christian poetry might arise within our thoroughly secular culture seems almost inconceivable. Is it possible that a body of Christian poetry is now being produced whose literary merit is equal to its religious conviction? David Impastato's splendid anthology, Upholding Mystery, answers that question with a resounding and surprising "yes."
From Andrew Hudgins' often humorous narratives to Geoffery Hill's darkly impassioned lyrics, from Denise Levertov's incisive personal and political insights to Wendell Berry's lovely evocations of the divine presence in nature, Upholding Mystery offers readers a wide range of both poetic and spiritual satisfactions. Featuring only poets who are currently writing--including such well-known poets as Richard Wilbur, Annie Dillard, Daniel Berrigan, Les Murray, and Louise Erdrich, along with the impressive though less-known voices of David Craig, Scott Cairns, and David Brendan Hopes--this superb anthology provides generous selections of work that is admirable equally for the stature of its verse and for its illumination of the Christian ethos. By limiting the number of poets included, this collection allows readers to gain a thorough familiarity with each poet's work and to see how each struggles with, celebrates, and embodies a vision of the sacred throughout a personal body of verse. In addition, editor David Impastato provides brief, accessible, extremely helpful introductions that highlight the specifically Christian concerns of the poems, and he organizes the book into sections dealing with such topics as The Cross, Transformation, Injustice, Presence, Praise, The Mystical Body, and so on, thereby giving the reader a coherent theological journey as well as the pleasurable experience of the individual poems.
Here, then, is a contemporary encounter with Christian mystery, in poetry that is as vibrant, as compelling, and as meaningful as any being written today. David Impastato has done an invaluable service in showing that the transcendent is indeed alive and well in the hands of contemporary poets, despite reports to the contrary, and in gathering a dazzling array of poems that will appeal in equal measure to religious and literary readers alike.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Oxford University Press, USA
Pages   400
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.98" Width: 5.72" Height: 1.33"
Weight:   1.44 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 12, 1996
Publisher   Oxford University Press
Edition  New  
ISBN  0195104005  
ISBN13  9780195104004  

Availability  58 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 26, 2016 02:01.
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More About David Impastato

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David Impastato has published on the subject of contemporary poetry, and his own poetry is soon to appear in The Sewanee Review. He worked for many years as a film director in Los Angeles, and is currently affiliated with the talking books program at the Library of Congress. He lives with his wife Nancy in Alexandria, Virginia. They have two sons and two grandchildren.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Anthologies
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Inspirational & Religious
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Single Authors > United States
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > British > British > 20th Century
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > 20th Century
8Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > General
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12Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Medical > Medicine > Internal Medicine > Psychiatry > General
13Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Fiction & Poetry > Poetry

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Reviews - What do customers think about Upholding Mystery: An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Poetry?

One of the Best Books in My Library  Jan 13, 2006
I picked up this anthology to read last June, and I haven't really put it back down yet. It's really that good. I keep it by my bedside to turn to continually.

It's a wonderful anthology for several reasons. The selections are excellent. These authors have such an amazing wit. Their images, their insights are simply startling at times. They inspire and (when necessary) condemn. They praise and lament. There is so much here that is useful for spiritual reflection.

Impastato has also chosen many of my favorite poets: Wendell Berry, Kathleen Norris, Andrew Hudgins, Richard Wilbur, and Scott Cairns. Moreover, there are a few excellent poets to whom I was introduced by this volume: Maura Eichner, David Craig, and Les Murray. The way that Impastato has broken up the book-according to spiritual theme-enhances the reading experience as well.

Also, I was extremely impressed with David Impastato's introduction which argues for the relevance of Christian poetry in this postmodern age. The short (usually paragraph long or shorter) reflections which appear after most poems and the write-ups between divisions are also outstanding.

Upholding Mystery is really one of the most valued books in my library. It is, perhaps, the book that I've recommended to people the most in the past year. It's wonderful for both scholarly and devotional reading.
A unique and "revolutionary" presentation of spiritual verse  Dec 6, 2000
This book is as close to a masterpiece of its genre as an anthology can get. It is perhaps the first assemblage of "Christian" verse that can honestly claim an appeal to both the Christian believer and to the general lover of poetry. Moreover, other anthologies of this kind have simply piled a body of poems into a bucket and let the reader have at it. Impastato has uniquely conceptualized UPHOLDING MYSTERY in two ways. First, he has organized the material by theme, whereby the reader is taken on a dramatic spiritual journey from darkness to light. Second, he has selected fifteen of the top living Christian poets writing in English today (Denise Levertov passed away right after the book's publication) - poets whose work represents what Impastato calls a "revolutionary core" of contemporary verse. The reader experiences this great poetry in depth and we're led to see how each poet explores and brings to life the evolving spiritual adventure that's set before us. The advantage over the everything-but-the kitchen-sink approach to anthologizing becomes eloquently clear as instead we are offered the riches and fulness of artistic vision. Finally, Impastato's commentary is our constant guide throughout, in language that's gracious and insightful. This is a wonderful, unique book - beautiful in appearance - for poetry readers and spiritual seekers of all kinds.
A truly special anthology for the soul  Dec 1, 2000
I'm really enthralled by David Impastato's UPHOLDING MYSTERY, which I received from a special friend as a gift. It's a collection of beautiful poetry as well as a wonderful spiritual companion. Don't expect the usual dry academic catalogue. This is an anthology for the soul. I marvel how different the poets are in their style and point-of-view and how each of them adds to the book's spiritual story. We get to know them and their poems like friends, and David Impastato is at our side all the way like a warm and understanding host. His book has really made me see how poetry and my spiritual life go hand in hand. UPHOLDING MYSTERY has been on my bedside table since I got it and will stay there for a long, long time to come.
A Cautious, Decorous, But Narrow Selection  Oct 26, 2000
The editor of this anthology, David Impastato, presents us with ample selections of his fifteen favorite poets. It is a cautious, careful, unadventurous anthology, whose quality is somewhat impaired by an insufficient diversity of voices being heard. Is it not fair to wonder whether all "Christian poetry" of note can be represented by scarcely more than a dozen poets, all of whom are white middle-class moderate-to-progressive Christians of the Western tradition, all of whom are speakers of English born between 1920 and 1960? Mr Impastato gambles that we will admire his pet poets as much as he does; it is the anthologist's only gamble, and it is not very successful.

There is much of value in UPHOLDING MYSTERY, from the elegance of Richard Wilbur, the Dylan Thomas-like combustion of Geoffrey Hill, the fiery radicalism of Daniel Berrigan, the serener and more irenic cadences of the equally radical Denise Levertov, the wry humor and quirky narrative of Kathleen Norris. And so on. But an anthology of this scope should contain twice, if not thrice, as many voices. As it stands, this is a book in which caution suppresses joy, and in which the scarcity of differing perspectives fails to present a true picture of that gloriously mammoth, rambunctious and sometimes cacophonous sprawl that is the mystical body of the Christian faithful. For an anthology of Christian literature, prose and poetry, that does justice to the polyphony of voices in Christianity and other creeds, the interested reader might peruse Anglican bishop George Appleton's OXFORD BOOK OF PRAYER, an adventurous superabundance of holy voices from many different centuries, regions, races, and ecclesial loyalties. But it is with considerable regret that we cannot wholeheartedly recommend Mr Impastato's selection of poems. Elegance and nobility, eloquence and humor, are by no means utterly absent, but all in all, this is an oppressively comfortable assemblage of authors.

An inspiring view of modern poetry for a reader of any faith  Feb 17, 1997
Regardless of your religious orientation, David Impastato's commentary on, and collection of, contemporary Christian poetry cries out for careful reading and reflection. Major poet's works are presented and discussed with great sensitivity, including Daniel Berrigan, Annie Dillard, Denise Levertov, and Richard Wilbur. In an unusually thought-provoking and often moving fashion, Mr. Impastato organizes the poems around themes that provide a lens through which the poetry can be understood, absorbed, and even cherished. The themes, which include love, presence, death, and injustice, break the bonds of a single religious tradition, rendering the book a rare pleasure for any reader. Even those with limited exposure to poetry, or to religion for that matter, will find much meaningful material in this book. "Upholding Mystery" achieves just that: The reader is rewarded with an exposure to the mysterious, through the poetry, through the discussions, through the themes themselves, that should not be missed. Given the frequently chaotic spirit of our modern times, this clearly written, well-organized book of contemporary Christian poetry offers comfort, intensity, and, yes, still more mystery. For those with any interest in the intersection between poetry and the spirit, this book is a must read. -AK

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