16 June 2011

Ekphrasis report #9

Last Tuesday, a few Ekphrasians and some others gathered in a lovely little gallery space in the lower level of the Re-Wired Café in Bethlehem to read from John Alexanderson's 2006 poetry chapbook, When Least Expected: Poems From Faith. People came and went, with a total attendance of only about eight, but the small number allowed for a more intimate and casual event, with good conversations about each poem. So, John read about the first five poems in the book, then I read several, then Ruth Green read, and then John finished up. We read right through the entire chapbook, discussing each poem. We asked John about the inspiration of some pieces, talked about the concepts and techniques of several, and generally enjoyed giving intense attention to a book in a way that rarely happens.

John’s chapbook is excellent. It is well structured and each poem is carefully crafted. The book moves from poems that are explicitly Christian to ones that are more obviously personal, exploring life-long love, father-daughter relationships, friendship, and love for a pet. Each poem is poignant and clear.

One of the poems in the book is dedicated to John’s sister, who just recently passed away, a victim of Alzheimer’s. John is selling copies of his book as a fundraiser for an Alzheimer’s foundation. If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, please email alexjt4 at comcast dot net

Here is a sample poem from the book:

by John Alexanderson
   This cup is … my blood,
 which is shed for you. [Luke 22:20]
It’s far too real.
He bled, a slit heifer.
And, for me?
Well, I think blood
is sticky, gross, and ghastly.
It spooks me, like a sparrow
I might startle in my backyard.
Lord, please.
Take it easy.
Let’s just be spiritual.
I‘ll pawn my prayers, 
my worship wan, even as it
bloats and swoons upon the pew
from which it tries to rise. 
Yet, the nub remains:
Might I have to bleed myself?
Great Friend, Only God,
your life, which flowed in love,
fill, at last, 
your child’s Sundae heart.
Melt it deep into your cup,

that we might drink as one.

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