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Epistles: Poems [Paperback]

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Item description for 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 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.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   95
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.38 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2007
Publisher   Sarabande Books
ISBN  1932511539  
ISBN13  9781932511536  

Availability  0 units.

More About Mark Jarman

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Mark Anthony Jarman is one of Canada s most original and compelling writers of short fiction. Jarman has been a finalist for various literary prizes including the Journey Prize. He graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and taught at the University of Victoria. He is currently a faculty member of the English department at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.

Mark Jarman currently resides in the state of Tennessee.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > English > American Literature
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Inspirational & Religious
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Single Authors > United States
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > 20th Century
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Epistles: Poems?

the best of meditative poetry  Nov 8, 2007
Mark Jarman's new book Epistles, is the one he was meant to write. A short review can't really express how playful, tender and insightful these poems are, how attentive to the very real, body- and- soul -destructive conditions of the world, and at the same time teasingly, generously aware of how deep our longings are for meaning, oversight, and connectedness.These Epistles are often subversive: "God spoke your name today; He said, "Tell me of my Servant X." We all lied.". I think it's the acheivement of tone that makes these poems so moving and impressive-- they aren't omniscient in the elevated way of Rilke-- they are utterly conversational- but they are so pervasive and insightful in their variety and thoughtfulnes, the probing empathy of their explorations, that I'm moved and made credulous over and over again of the integrity of their message. Another contemporary book with which this might be compared is Wild Iris, by louise Gluck, a great book. Nonethelesss, Jarman's book may be even better for its kindness, though it is no less ruthless and insightful about the human condition, and the orphaned crucible of being alive and conscious-- not conscious enough to be happy with the fruit of awareness, not unconscious enough to be content with our merely physical lives. Jarman has been a very good poet for a long time- but this book is a stellar and valuable acheivement. It deserves to win the Pulitzer or NBA, or some large recognition-- because this book offers unstintingly and unsentimentally, good news about -if nothing else- the resourcefullness of human soul and imagination. These poems are also, in their way, very funny.
Kissing the Leper  Oct 4, 2007
A Catholic who claimed that St. Francis is perhaps the most beloved of saints would meet few arguments, even from non-Catholics. His popularity might be gauged by the number of gardens in which his statue appears, usually feeding birds or holding out his delicate hand to deer and rabbits. Many garden owners aren't especially religious, but they're attracted to St. Francis anyway. And why not? In humility and compassion, he almost transcends those pious partygoers, his fellow saints.

But even the divine Francis faced a late test that plagued his life of service and devotion. He feared lepers. He found them repulsive, disgusting, horrific. Seeing one on the road or in the village, he'd literally turn and run away like a hysterical child. This uncontrollable fear almost led to Francis renouncing his vows and leaving the monastery. How could he do God's work when he couldn't even do the work of a simple, compassionate man?
Francis's spiritual struggle was terrific. We know he succeeded (we need only check a few gardens to be assured of that), but how? Walking down a lane one day, Francis met up with his worst nightmare. A horribly disfigured leper burst out of the hedge and onto the road directly in Francis's path. The men stopped, facing each other. A moment later, Francis threw his arms around the leper and kissed him on the mouth. A signature moment, a St. Francis moment.

This is a beautiful, inspiring resolution, but we can only wonder about Francis's years of struggle before he spiritually broke through.

Mark Jarman's new book of poetry consists of 30 letters to God, to believers and non-believers, to familiars, and to himself that give us the marvelous experience of living and working through just such a struggle. EPISTLES is Jarman's honest, insightful, painful, and uplifting account of meeting and embracing his leper.
READER ALERT! These are not one-trick-pony poems. These are dense, provocative, edgy, yet relentlessly reasonable reflections on the meaning of faith in our scary America and only slightly less frightening world. I delight in reading these poems aloud, the better to catch their stick-in-your-heart cadences, their often surprising yet clear as spring water imagery, and their uncompromising truths. Reading aloud also unveils the subtleties of Jarman's often exquisite thought.

A believer who has long suffered dramatic doubt, Jarman addresses God and us with a familiarity that undercuts reverence without destroying it. He questions, questions, and then questions some more. At times I can imagine him in God's eyes, who regards the poet as that charming A-student who is at times annoying because he always has a question, then one more after that.

In spiritual practice, the goal is integration, making the practice seamless with all that we do in our daily lives. Jarman succeeds, and the proof is in every page. Whether he is jogging, watching birds, contemplating trees and flowers, lying in bed beside his wife, remembering, debating religious fine points, teaching, or probing the language of science, Jarman is faithful to spiritual questing as The Point of his time here on earth.
As a result, he has given us the gift of his most mature, best book. Again, read one or two of these epistles aloud each day. I find that they work nicely in my own daily practice of prayers, poems, and mantras. What better recommendation for a book of poetry than that?

--Robert McDowell, The Poetry Mentor,, author of the forthcoming Poetry as Spiritual Practice (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, July 2008)

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