Tag Archives: poetry

Prayer of the Eastside Catholic

December 15, 2015

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In the heartland of America, the mighty Mississippi runs deep

Upon her banks, pioneers and immigrants harnessed the falls of St. Anthony,

Turning water into electricity and wheat into flour.

With work came faith, with flowing water came finest wine

With bread came the Eucharist.

 

Sons of German farmers shaped stone and glass into St. Boniface

Proud Poles built the mighty church of the Holy Crossing

“The” Strong Slavs remembered St. Cyril and dedicated him a church

Descendants of French Voyageurs honored Our Lady at Lourdes

Daughters of Ukraine baked pierogis and shaped the beautiful St. Constantine

The fruits of Lebanon turned cedar wood into St. Maron’s.

 

Today, French African immigrants and hardworking Hispanics join the great

Grandsons of Bavaria and Granddaughters of Italy in a new generation’s

Chorus to praise an ancient Church.

And, at our Lady of Mount Carmel, God’s special children,

Our deaf brothers and sisters,

Honor God not with their tongues but with their hands.

 

Work combined with faith, duty to God and America,

Loyalty to church and family

These values built the Eastside of Minneapolis.

 

May the Eastside of Minneapolis always remember the Lord who made the Mississippi River run

May the Eastside of Minneapolis always honor the Lord who made the mouths of many nations

Worship together one God and join together in the great feast of the Eucharist.

May the Eastside of Mississippi always welcome the stranger with Christ,

And respect the worker who seeks a better life with dignity.

Cain Pence is a native of the eastside of Minneapolis. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and is a member of St. Boniface in northeast Minneapolis. Pence is a salesman and has travelled extensively throughout all 50 states. The place he loves the most is the eastside of Minneapolis. He wrote this short prayer to honor the Catholic immigrant spirit found alive and well there.

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Quilts, yes, but so much more

January 10, 2012

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A poet and an illustrator patch together history, art and spirituality in boisterous words and blooming color

What it was like to be a Black slave in the American South — the back-breaking work, the pain, the evil masters, the broken hearts and yet the joy, the inner satisfaction, the compassionate masters, the deep faith — all of it comes at readers full bore in “I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery.”

Cynthia Grady has provided the poems — themselves named for quilts and structured like the patchwork craft of the seamstress — and illustrator Michele Wood uses quilt patterns to the max to dress the poet’s stories in form and color that simply can’t be ignored.

A book just of the poetry itself would be worthy. Grady’s storytelling is teacher-like, thought-provoking as all good poetry is, and musical in the dialect of the slaves themselves.

Phrases like “the devil hisself,” “fetch a good price” and “make your skin goose up” grab your senses — and your sensitivity to what Black people went through during those pre-Emancipation Proclamation decades.

Just like a quilt, each poem incorporates three layers — intentionally, Grady explained — with spiritual, musical and sewing references. Even the shape of each poem — 10 lines of 10 syllables — mirrors the squares of quilt blocks.

Each poem is accompanied not only by one of Wood’s creative illustrations but by a paragraph or two or three of historical background that makes each two-page spread even more informative.

Looking for something different yet spiritual and substantial for Black History Month in February? This Eerdmans Book for Young Readers would fill the bill nicely. Order here from the publisher or check at your local bookstore.

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Monk’s poetry invites us to view biblical stories and characters from non-traditional perspectives

January 16, 2009

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“God Drops and Loses Things,”

by Kilian McDonnell

Bible stories we’ve read before, biblical characters we’ve met before, but never this way. That’s what fills the pages of Benedictine Father Kilian McDonnell’s third book of poetry (St. John’s University Press).

Perhaps you — like myself — feel you are out of your area of expertise in reading, no less reviewing, poetry. But take a chance, challenge yourself and try to see with the eyes of this monk from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn.

I stuck a Post-It note on at least a dozen of the nearly 50 works because they said something to me.

For one thing, Killian gives a voice to the women of Holy Scripture — Miriam, for example, and Mary Magdalene — whose thoughts the Bible authors mainly ignored.

My favorite might be “Widow Rachel: Matchmaker,” as much a short essay as a poem, but cleverly imagined thoughts from the mind of a woman trying to find a wife for the carpenter, who doesn’t seem to be interested:

“Mary needs grandchildren. The man is thirty and still at home with his mother, so of course the women whisper as they gather at the market stalls.”

It’s a treasure.

See how quickly you find the “prodigal daughter” entry.

Moving from the Hebrew Testament to the New Testament, Father Kilian re-writes parables with a new, imagined tone that somehow makes the stories of Jesus mean more to today’s hearer.

I loved “The Catholic Thing,” an accusation in poetic form that correctly charges us Christians with being so unchristian at times.

Toward the end Kilian favors us with a few pieces that come from his person — family and Benedictine family — that are filled with rich images, take us to the places he chooses to share with all of us. We’re so blessed that he does. — bz
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Everybody thinks they have a book in them

May 20, 2008

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It must be part of modern culture that everyone who ever received a B+ or better on a high school essay has a gut feeling that they could write a book someday.

Whether prompted by illusions of penning the great American novel, delusions that a lot of other people will care about your life story or sincere conviction that others will benefit by knowing your take on a topic, the urge to write can be overwhelming.

Also overwhelmed, in turn, are book reviewers.

Write a few reviews and the hopeful of the literary world beat a path to your in box.

That’s okay, though. Keep ’em coming.

As I crack the spines of new deliveries that appear with the request for reviews, a question that regularly comes to mind is this: Who does the person who wrote this think will be interested in this?

That may be a valid question, but others, and a better ones are: Might there be people out there who would get something out of reading this? Are there gems in here that make this worthwhile?
Let me give you a couple of examples.

Ready for your coffee table?

Judy McCabe, who lives in Minnetonka, put together some of her thoughts of home with photos — some good, some just ordinary — to create a well-design, coffee table book titled, um, “Thoughts of Home.”

McCabe, a member of St. Patrick in Edina, has moved around the country, and she wrote, “What I really want to do with the book is open a dialog for people who are relocated or transferred.” Could viewing scene of normal, every-day life around homes of various kinds inspire fond memories and help people appreciate home life?

To be perfectly honest — and I told McCabe this — the book didn’t do anything for me. I did like the book’s design, and I think it works as a coffee table book to browse through. The ordinariness of the home life she describes, though, doesn’t compel me to give a ringing endorsement of “Thoughts of Home,” but McCabe deserves at the very least a pat on the back for not letting her creative urge lie inert.
Find out more about McCabe and her work at http://www.thoughtsofhome-judymccabe.com/.

Life story of interest?

Then there’s Bill Mori. Mori is a member of St. Paul in Ham Lake who pulled together his memories of growing up in Fort Dodge, Iowa, during the 1950s.
“East End Italian” is a series of brief chapters that, for the most part, aren’t unique. Life in Fort Dodge and at Holy Rosary Parish there isn’t much different from life elsewhere in the country that I could see. Yet….

There are slices of small town life that Mori has preserved by being willing to try this authorship thing. My favorite concerns his job at the local mom-and-pop grocers, a holdout to the supermarkets of the day. Customers came in to Brechwald’s with a list of items, and schoolboys like Mori ran through the aisles to “fetch” them, as he writes. Never heard of that before.

Mori’s got some funny, funny anecdotes. There’s a great story about being fascinated with airplanes, writing away to obtain photos from the manufacturers like Lockheed, Boeing and McDonald Douglas, only to have the government agents show up at their door, wanting to question a certain William Mori who was so curious about the latest military aircraft.

If you want to know more, contact the author at bmori@comcast.net.

Spiritual poetry, anyone?

Margaret Peterson has been rhyming for years, and now her poems are collected in her first book, “The Pearl of Great Price: Spiritual Poetry to Life the Soul.”

My guess is that poetry experts might judge her work as syrupy, Pollyannish maybe, and definitely old fashioned, as if that’s a crime. But I liked it. It wore on me.

Yeah, it’s a bit on the sweet side, but I’m going to bet Peterson is sweet, too. This is a lady who has taught 4th grade faith formation at her parish, St. Bonaventure in Bloomington, for more than 20 years, and just loves doing it, we hear.

There is surely simplicity in some of her poems, but others carry wisdom — and do so with great economy. Two samples:

Mirrors
A mirror reflects
Whatever it views
We reflect
The paths we choose.
The Pearl of Great Price
God is the pearl
In the ocean of life;
Will we love Him or cast Him aside…
And spend our lives searching
For something unknown
To ease the longing inside?
Find out more by looking her up at http://www.margaretpetersonpoetry.com.

Courage counts

These are just three examples of local people who have yielded to the urge and tried their hand at the book world. Their work may or may not be your cup of tea or may have value for just a small number of readers.

But if wholesale endorsement of a work isn’t in the cards, anyone with the courage to work hard at getting a book out of their system deserves applause for at least that effort. And who know when the next author of bestsellers might be one of those folks brave enough to put words on paper. — bz

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