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exhalations are the sudden condensation, the idea of anticipation being key. Later, drawing on an image reminiscent of prayer, ‘‘the empty cup waits/like folded hands’’ (96). Myers’s startling and often beautiful leaps of language provide much delight and pleasure for readers. Within ‘‘Good Friday at the Alamo,’’ with its weaving together of history and the speaker’s Holy Week visit to the title site, many of the book’s subjects, its structural and poetic elements, and its broader concerns coalesce. Readers encounter the details of the famous site as ‘‘the rubber flip-flops of tourists make a sound/ of polite applause for the dead’’ (77), while the speaker posits that Davy Crocket’s gun is ‘‘like the tibia of Mary Magdalene at Toulon’’ (77). With the poem’s movement from the particular details of the speaker’s experience to those beyond himself he states, ‘‘Somewhere outside of time we all cry out/from the dark of our mouths, Crucify Him!’’ (77). There is movement beyond the personal which culminates with the speaker’s passionate request, ‘‘Oh, tour guide, tell them we have a history/of violence. Tell them we have a history // of need’’ (77). The use of the collective ‘‘we’’ shows that as readers we are also implicated, and here Myers serves as the poetic and prophetic voice announcing our need. Nathaniel L. Hansen University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Luke Hankins, (ed.). Poems of Devotion: An Anthology of Recent Poets. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2012. Pp. xxviii + 208. $24.70. ISBN 978-161097 -712-8. Luke Hankins has assembled a rich, varied anthology of devotional poetry, most of which was written between 1950 and the present, including 77 poets, the vast majority of the poems originally in English, with translations as well from French, Polish, Magyar (Hungarian), Dutch, and Hebrew. Hankins’s introductory essay, ‘‘The Poem as Devotional Practice: The Lasting Model of the 17th-century Poets,’’ asserts the importance of ‘‘poetry as a means of meditating’’ (xvi), reminding us that ‘‘the composition of a poem can itself be an act of devotion’’ (xvii). The central argument of Anthony Low’s Love’s Architecture: Devotional Modes in Seventeenth-Century English Poetry, Hankins argues, transcends the study’s period and geography of focus: devotional poetry at its most powerful is often exploratory, an ‘‘agonia,’’ a ‘‘wrestling with God,’’ and not rhetorical or theatrical posturing in language to achieve a foregone conclusion (xviii–xix). We readers cannot know, of course, or verify the inner states of poets who write the poems we read; Cristina Malcolmson, for example, in her study of George Herbert refers to the ‘‘sincerity effect,’’ the way in which Herbert’s poems achieve the appearance of sincerity and the genuine: true art, after all, is often in a work’s seeming artlessness . God alone sees hearts fully. Book Reviews 227 Still, Hankins compellingly describes a process to which many poets, including the secular Robert Frost, attest: ‘‘No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.’’ The act of creation, for religious and secular poet alike, necessitates openness and often struggle. Without surprise, there is no lasting or moving art: no revealing, no discovering. Hankins insists this is particularly true of devotional verse. Perhaps, though, the true devotional act transcends or mysteriously precedes the spoken word or finished poem. R. S. Thomas, for example, describes a radical openness to the divine, a ‘‘waiting,’’ in his poem ‘‘Kneeling,’’ as in the communion of saints imagined around him listening , too, for God in prayer: Prompt me, God; But not yet. When I speak, Though it be you who speak Through me, something is lost. The meaning is in the waiting. (20) Or, as Thomas includes by asking in ‘‘Threshold,’’ the poem that follows in the anthology, What To do but, like Michelangelo’s Adam, put my hand Out into unknown space, Hoping for the reciprocating touch? (21) The poetic maker, made by God, imitates his Maker’s making: making is part of our reflection of the divine, an aspect of both incarnation and creation, a way back to the creator, an intimate gesture. For Hankins, devotional poetry...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 227-231
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
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