Renowned Catholic fiction writer, Flannery O’Connor once stated that “an identity is not to be found on the surface.” Poets need not be so literal about their Catholic identity, but rather write in their authentic voices, confronting their demons head-on with bravery and, thereby, serving as instruments of grace and truth.
Even a short lyric poem has a central action to it. Poems in Presence will make it possible to identify the source of this action as God’s grace moving within our lives.
The personae in the poems of Presence may be surprised by either finding God’s interaction in their lives or finding their own need for it.
Humans have always worked toward a way to unite by finding common paths, such as art, religion, and language. It is my hope that Presence will provide a pathway for transcending cultural barriers revealing the presence of God in all of human life.
Catholic art should reflect life. It should not be modeled as a self-help or how-to guide on achieving salvation. Instead it should awaken the imagination that grows from and even creates shared experience between believer and skeptic, traditionalist and modernist, even tragedian and comedian.
It is the test of the believer to maintain his faith in a higher being during times of distress; it is the gift of the poet to be able to make this pain and struggle beautiful.
So often, religion is viewed as an untouchable entity, something people observe or adhere to, but not something we may interact with or integrate into daily human experience. I hope the poems in Presence will make faith palpable as a living, breathing organism and invite us to think more about how we interact with mercy, grace, suffering, sacrifice, and belief.
Poems with strong images and metaphors help readers see, feel, hear, and even taste the presence of God in human lives.
Only poems that reflect the points of view of particular social classes and genders can affect the souls of everyone universally with inspiration, joy, and healing.
Poems that allude to other great works from the Catholic tradition, such as Dante’s Inferno, show the relevance of past experiences in the contemporary world and a long history of faith and its struggles.
1 Peter 2:2 states, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” Presence can be that “spiritual milk” flowing through writer into reader.
Whether the reader is a believer or not, it is important for the poems in Presence to evoke a personal response from the reader. Our relationship with the divine is most fundamentally a personal one.