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Monday, December 12, 2016

The Yearning Life: Poems

When Paraclete Press kindly sent me a copy of The Yearning Life by Regina Walton to review, a golden logo on the front cover announced the first recipient of the Phyllis Tickle Prize in Poetry, alerting me to pay special attention. As a poet and poetry reader, I welcome prize-winning poetry for all that can be extracted but also experienced, and this highly recommended book did not disappoint.

For example, in the first poem “Exemplum,” the landing of a fly on a book not only observed and honored a common experience, but elevated that fly to a metaphor, evoking this insight:

“Thank you, little black-robed fly,
For showing me
How to be an ascetic.

You see everything,
But own nothing.”

The next poem “The Miraculous Catch of Fish” written about in Luke 5:1-11 offers no black robe but “arrowhead bodies/ In startled unison,” themselves making a “shimmering net of a mind” as they mysteriously head for the fishermen’s net to be caught.

As shown in the title poem, “The Yearning Life” resides between the active and contemplative lives, making a place:

“Where you rest in constant restlessness
Having made a decent start, but not yet
Streaming from abandoned self
Into the heart of light.”

In the poem “My Education,” the “I” of the poem confesses:

“I think I am somewhere between
Set free and ruined.”

then admits:

“I cannot tell anymore
What I expect to find.
But I will know it when I see it –
I will trade all that I have.”

If you’ve ever felt such a deep longing, you, too, know what this yearning life means.

Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, seeker, © 2016

The Yearning Life: Poems, paperback

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