Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Michael Sowder

Dear Editor,

Nate Klug writes in your February issue [“The Upside of Terror?”] that the “terror of a life lived in the Christian faith has produced some of our greatest poetry,” but that contemporary religious poetry, rather than “confronting you with a soul drowning in God...is much more likely to invite you in for a dip.” Klug reviews Scott Cairns’s poetry as an example. To try Klug’s thesis that Cairns’s Compass of Affection fails to grapple with the anguish of the spiritual life, I employed a little test—the old technique—Sortes Biblicae (previously, Sortes Homerica, Sortes Virgilianae) and let his book fall open randomly to see what the fates had to say. Before me lay “Blesséd Being,” a poem about having failed, even by middle age, to have embraced the poverty “promising to adorn the heart,” having chosen so often instead the solace of “scotch/served neat.” “I’d hoped by now to have commenced, at least, to pray.” I don’t know what more poignant confession of doubt, failure, and darkness, all so ubiquitous on the spiritual path, Klug was hoping to find.

logan, utah

Originally Published: May 1, 2009

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This prose originally appeared in the May 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2009

Biography

Poet Michael Sowder is the author of The Empty Boat (Truman State University Press, 2004). He lives in Utah.

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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