Sunday, December 26, 2021

Thought for the Day

Hope is the hardest love we carry.
~ Jane Hirshfield

Quoted from Jane Hirshfield, "Hope and Love" in The Lives of the Heart (Harper Perennial, 1997)

See Denise Hopkins's "Hope Is the Hardest Love We Carry", oil on canvas, 24" x 24", inspired by Hirshfied's poem.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Thought for the Day

Missing someone
is a mother
who leaves the front door ajar.
~Alireza Roshan

Excerpt quoted from Alireza Roshan, The Book of Absence, Poem-a-Day, The Academy of American Poets, December 3, 2021 (Trans. by Erfan Mojib and Gary Gach)

Alireza Roshan, Iranian Poet

Thursday, December 16, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Janet McKenzie, The Holy Family, 2007
Oil on Canvas, 42" x 54"
Collection of Loyola School (New York, New York)
© Copyright Janet McKenzie
I am privileged and delighted to present work by the internationally renowned painter Janet McKenzie in today's new Artist Watch column in the online arts magazine Escape Into Life.

A dedicated celebrant of diversity and inclusiveness, Janet McKenzie "reflects our time's awareness of suffering and injustice. In just those depths she celebrates our common humanity," says Lois Eby (Vermont Public Radio, August 21, 2002). Known for her painting Jesus of the People, which has been featured worldwide in print, online, and in documentaries, Janet "honors the feminine spirit" in her diverse sacred and secular paintings and gives "visual voice" to the continuing struggle for racial, religious, and gender acceptance and equality.

Today's Artist Watch showcases eight of Janet's exquisite, thought-provoking paintings and includes her Artist Statement and biography, as well as social media links. Information about each of the paintings, which could not be more appropriate for the Christmas season, also is provided.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Thought for the Day

In a circle everything changes.
~ Kathy Wilder 


Quoted from Kathy Wilder, "AdventWord — Strength/Fortaleza/Force", Forward Movement, 2021

Kathy Wilder, Executive Director, Camp Stevens (Episcopal Camp and Retreat Center of the Diocese of Los Angeles and San Diego)

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Thought for the Day

No one walks through their story un-stung.
~ Peter Grandbois


Quoted from Peter Grandbois, "When your son abandons the lawnmower for the second time in as many days", Poem-a-Day, The Academy of American Poets, November 30, 2021

Peter Grandbois, American Writer and Poet

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Thought for the Day

The antidote for the ignorance that causes suffering 
is to wake up to what we really are.
~ Paul Knitter

Quoted in "Our True Nature", Daily Meditations, Center for Action and Contemplation, November 8, 2021, from Paul Knitter and Roger Haight, Jesus and Buddha: Friends in Conversation (Orbis, 2015), pp 41-42

Paul Knitter, American Theologian; Emeritus Professor, Union Theological Seminary


Sunday, November 21, 2021

Thought for the Day

It is impossible to know, in the moment, how a small act
of goodness will reverberate through time. The notion is
empowering and it is frightening—because it means that
we're all capable of changing the world, and responsible
for finding those opportunities to protect, feed, 
grow, and guide love.
~ Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry

Quoted from "Being's 'God's Somebody'", Daily Meditations, Center for Action and Contemplation, October 29, 2021 (See Michael Curry with Sara Grace, Love Is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times (Avery, 2020).) 
Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church

Thursday, November 18, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Jodie Kain, God Is My Judge, 2018
Pastel, 18" h x 18.5" w
© Jodie Kain 

Jodie Kain, Two Scotches In, 2017
Pastel, 15" h x 21" w
© Jodie Kain


This month's new Artist Watch feature introduces the award-winning painter Jodie Kain to readers of the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life.

Jodie, a native New Yorker who lives and works in Boston, began her formal art studies at age 16, when she enrolled in an anatomy class at the Art Students League of New York; subsequently, she studied with photorealist Rob Neffson at Penn State University, at The Heatherley School of Fine Art in London, and at the Academy of Realist Art in Boston. She holds a bachelor's degree in fine art from Penn State. A figurative painter who also employs plein air techniques while studying natural subjects from life, Jodie works exclusively in pastels. She is a member of both The American Artists Professional League and American Women Artists.

For today's Artist Watch column, Jodie has generously provided a dozen images of work from 2021 - 2017; her Artist Statement, and a biographical profile. Links to her social media also are provided in the column.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Thought for the Day

Our core is original blessing, not original sin.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

Quoted from Richard Rohr, "A Hopeful Foundation", Center for Action and Contemplation, October 24, 2021
Fr. Richard Rohr, Franciscan Friar, Ecumenical Teacher, Founder of Center for Action and Contemplation (New Mexico)

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Thought for the Day

Shame never has a loud clang.
The worst part is how silent it is.
~ Victoria Chang

Quoted from Introduction to "'Dear Memory' digs into the shame accompanying immigrant silence", Author Intervew at NPR, October 12, 2021; From Victoria Chang, Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence, and Grief (Milkweed Editions, 2021)

Victoria Chang, Poet and Writer

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Thought for the Day

Your heart is greater than your wounds.
~ Henri Nouwen

Quoted from Henri Nouwen Society Daily E-Meditations, "Live Your Wounds", October 9, 2021

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Thought for the Day

[. . .] The practice of letting go and embracing simplicity is one way
we prepare ourselves for what is to come. One day we all will have
to let go of everything — even our own breath. It will be a day 
of utter simplicity — a day when the importance of stuff fades.
Learning to live simply prepares us for our last breath while
cultivating in us the freedom to truly live here and now. [. . .]
~ Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

Quoted from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, "Letting Go of Things" in "Weekly Summary", Center for Contemplative Action, September 25, 2021 (The quote is found in Calhoun's Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us (InterVarsity Press, 2005), pages 75-76.)

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Pastor, Spiritual Director, Speaker, Retreat Leader, Certified Enneagram Trainer, Author

Thursday, October 21, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Lauren Tilden, Trees in October, 2021
Oil on Panel
12" x 12"
© 2021 by Lauren Tilden
Today's new Artist Watch column at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life, showcases the poetic and masterly work of American painter Lauren Tilden.
A three-time recipient of grants from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, Lauren holds a master's degree in fine arts from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Her paintings, which she has shown in numerous exhibitions, especially in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have been published in The Artist's Magazine and other art-related periodicals. Currently a resident of West Virginia, she is represented by Haynes Galleries and F.A.N. Gallery.

The latest Artist Watch features images of nine of Lauren's paintings, her Artist Statement, and a brief biography.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Thought for the Day

The world is very beautiful, but human beings are quite mad.
~ David Hockney 
Quoted from David Hockney, "Why abstraction in art has run its course", The Art Newspaper, September 30, 2021
David Hockney, British Painter, Draftsman, Printmaker, Stage Designer, Photographer

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Thought for the Day

[. . .] because the source of all creativity is the Word himself,
the role of the Inspirer is inescapably relational. So I think all
spiritual and creative inspiration starts with more relational
virtues: humility, honesty, availability, and affection. [ . . .]
~ Paul J. Pastor

Quoted from Michael Wright, "We must become poetry." (Interview with Paul J. Pastor), Still Life (Weekly Letter on Art and Spirit)

Paul J. Pastor, Poet, Editor, Author of Bower Lodge (Fernwood Press, December 2021), The Face of the Deep (David C. Cook, 2020), The Listening Day (Zeal Books, 2017), Vol. One, and The Listening Day (Zeal Books, 2017), Volume Two

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Thought for the Day

 We are faithful / only to the imagination.
~ Denise Levertov
Quoted from Denise Levertov, "Everything that Acts is Actual," at What Sparks Poetry | Poetry Daily, September 13, 2021. This poem can be found in Collected Earlier Poems 1940 - 1960 (New Directions).
Denise Levertov (1923 - 1997), Awarding-Winning American Poet

Thursday, September 30, 2021

2021 Artist Nominees for Best of the Net

As the editor of Artist Watch, the monthly column at the online international arts magazine Escape Into Life, I have the opportunity and privilege to nominate three artists for the 2021 Best of the Net anthology, with gratitude to Sundress Publications for offering this award series! Nominees' work must have been published between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. Please join me in congratulating the nominees.

Please click the links below to view each column with the work for which the artists have been nominated:

   Dan Reisner, "George Floyd", Bronze (Photo: Ron Kedmi)

Artist Watch, Dan Reisner, May 20, 2021

Hansa, "Madonna del Mare Nostrum (Or, Cloak of Love)", Oil on Canvas

Artist Watch, Hansa (Hans Versteeg),  April 15, 2021



Adrienne Stein, "Earth I", Oil on Linen

Artist Watch, Adrienne Stein,  July 16, 2020

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Thought for the Day

Poems are really good at being uncertain.
Tweets, not so much.
~ Kaveh Akbar

Quoted from "The Rumpus Poetry Book Club Chat With Kaveh Akbar," The Rumpus, August 31, 2021

Kaveh Akbar, Iranian-American Poet and Scholar; Author, Pilgrim Bell, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, and Portrait of the Alcoholic; Poetry Editor, The Nation

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Thought for the Day

[The] art of life is the art of community [. . .]
where the readiness to engage actively on behalf
of the common good takes precedence over the success
of one's own demands and over group interests.
~ Frank Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger

Quoted from Frank Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, Psalms 3: A Commentary on Psalms 101-150, Hermeneia (Fortress Press, 2011), page 479

Frank Lothar Hossfeld, Professor of Old Testament, University of Bonn, Germany; Author

Erich Zenger, Professor of Old Testament, University of Munster, Germany; Author

Thursday, September 16, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Malachite Muse, 2021
Oil on Linen, 80 cm x 80 cm
© Elise Macdonald
Today's new Artist Watch at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life showcases the gorgeous paintings of Elise Macdonald, currently a resident of South Africa. 

Elise, who paints every day and has created online a remarkable following around the world, studied art of the University of Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, which awarded her a bachelor's degree in fine art. In no time, her experimentations with airbrush painting brought her success. Following time off for parenthood, Elise returned to painting with oils and brushes. Her work sells out within days of completion.

This month's Artist Watch features seven of Elise's paintings, her Artist Statement, and a brief profile.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Thought for the Day

Love sees what is invisible.
~ Simone Weil

Quoted from Simone Weil, Waiting for God (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2009), page 149

Simone Weil (1909-1943), French Religious Philosopher, Essayist, Poet, Dramatist, Social Critic, Political Activist

"The Question of God", Public Broadcasting Service

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Thought for the Day

It is hard work to live into this generative love, and it is
what we are made for: to paint light into darkness, to sing
in co-creation, to take flight in abundance.
~ Makoto Fujimura 

Quoted from Makoto Fujimura, "Find God in the Arts: A Theology of Making" at Center for Action and Contemplation, August 18, 2021

Makoto Fujimura, Artist, Writer and Author 

Makoto Fujimura, Art and Faith: A Theology of Making (Yale University Press, 2021)

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Thought for the Day

We are called to weep with those who weep and mourn
with those who mourn. Our tears are our prayers when we
can't speak, a baptism of sorts, a salty healing, a sign of our
vulnerability, and a liturgical response to violence. [. . .]
~ Barbara Holmes

Quoted from Barbara Holmes, "Communal Lament" (Daily Meditation on Crisis Contemplation), The Center for Action and Contemplation, July 28, 2021
Rev. Dr. Barbara Holmes, Theologian, Scholar of African American Spirituality and Mysticism, Activist, Writer and Author; Faculty Member, The Center for Action and Contemplation

Barbara A. Holmes, Crisis Contemplation: Healing the Global Village (CAC Publishing, 2021), pages 95-96

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Thought for the Day

[. . .]In the face of horrors visited upon our world daily,
in the struggle to protect our loved ones, choosing to let in
joy is a revolutionary act. Joy returns us to everything good
and beautiful and worth fighting for. It gives us energy for
the long labor. [. . .] Joy is the gift of love: it makes the labor
an end in itself. I believe laboring in joy is the meaning of life.
~ Valarie Kauer
Quoted in Barbara Holmes, "Crisis Contemplation and Joy," The Center for Action and Contemplation, July 29, 2021, from Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (One World, 2020), page 307.

Valarie Kaur, Sikh Human Rights Activist, Writer and Author, Lawyer, Award-Winning Filmmaker, Educator, Innovator

Thursday, August 19, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Joy, Hanji paper, 2021
10" x 8"

© Yun Gee Bradley


Yes, it's mid-August and thus time for another refreshing Dog Days Artist Watch at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life. Today's column, featuring work by the masterly paper artist Yun Gee Bradley, is guaranteed to bring you in from the heat outdoors and leave you in front of your computer in awe of the artist's talent.

Yun Gee, who has lived in America since 1995, loves to make things, and she does so with joy, Hanji paper (made from mulberry bark), glue, and tweezers or her fingers. Using a technique she developed on her own, Yun Gee shapes into being beautiful images of animals, from wildlife to dogs and cats, portraits of children and adults, and abstractions. She wields her tools the way painters use their brushes. The results are astonishing.

For today's Artist Watch column, Yun Gee has provided 10 images of dogs, small and large and in-between, all full of expression and each astonishingly realistic; an Artist Statement; and a brief biography. Links to her Website and social media also are available.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Thought for the Day

Live in the layers,
not on the litter. 
~ Stanley Kunitz

Quoted from Stanley Kunitz, "The Layers" in The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz (W.W. Norton, 1978; 2002)

Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006), 10th U.S. Poet Laureate

Theresa Riley, "A Poet a Day: Stanley Kunitz" at Bill Moyers (Introductory Text and Video)

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Thought for the Day

What if we joined our sorrows, I'm saying. I'm saying:
What if that is joy?
~ Ross Gay
Quoted from "Word for the Day" at A Network for Grateful Living, July 14, 2021 

Ross Gay, Award-Winning Poet

Thursday, August 5, 2021

9/11 Remembered: 'Crossing the Rift' (Review)

Cover Art
[. . .] only words can begin, however precariously, to mend. [. . .]
~ Joseph Bathanti, "Preface"
[. . .] I hope their words make it safe to remember. [. . .]
~ David Potorti, "Introduction"
September 11, 2001:
Twenty years after the most deadly terrorist attack on United States soil, what comes to mind?
For many of the 116 poets whose work was selected for the forthcoming commemorative anthology Crossing the Rift: North Carolina Poets on 9/11 & Its Aftermath (Press 53, September 11, 2021), what comes to mind is "the morning / rainfreshed" (Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin, "Tony Writes to Say He's Alive"), "[t]hat September morning's iris of sky" (Debra Allbery, "The Wakeful Bird Sings Darkling"), cloudless and blued into brilliance before exploding into unforgettable images of fire and toxic smoke, of bodies falling and returned to dust. For others in this anniversary collection, memory remains "one of those days when you remember / exactly where you were," when "we lost the last of our innocence" (Kaye Nelson Ratliff, "Infamous Days") and were forever after to carry "the long litany of the lost" (Glenis Redmond, "Witness the Whole World") into a "new age of wars, two wars abroad that never end, and one at home to rip the fabric of our nation apart" (Robert Morgan, "A Sickness in the Air"). 
The clarity of what is remembered, and of what was and continues to be done in consequence, acts as both thorn and spur. Raised as  they are, individually and collectively, the poets' voices guide us through the wreckage of our common history and challenge us to seek something better.

Edited by Joseph Bathanti, a former North Carolina Poet Laureate, and David Potorti, a former Literature and Theatre Director of the North Carolina Arts Council and co-founder of the nonprofit "September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows," the poems trace an arc in contemporary history that as yet has failed to come full circle: Since those unimagined moments when two planes struck the World Trade Center towers in New York City; another, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia; and a fourth, hard ground in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, we all have had to "wonder aloud // what our world would be like now" (Sebastian Matthews, "The Day Everything Changed") had "people's instincts for compassion [. . .] [not] quickly channeled elsewhere, into hatred of the other, an excuse for new military escapades, and a hardening of attitudes, suspicions and beliefs about their fellow citizens" (David Potorti, "Introduction").
Make no mistake, however: Throughout this period of deeply personal loss at home and abroad, many of us have determined to "cross the rift" — to share grief, to bear witness, to "remember who we were, and aspire to be." Nowhere is this more evident than in this anthology in which so many diverse perspectives, some etched in sorrow (Potorti's oldest brother James died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11), others re-marked in anger, ultimately cohere and illuminate and reconcile us to our own and "the other's" humanity.

Thematically, the poems, which are organized alphabetically by each poet's last name, range widely, as we might expect, given the diversity of the poets themselves: multi-award-winning writers, established and mid-career authors, emergent MFAs, veterans and retired physicians, U.S.-born citizens and immigrants, professors and activists, men and women — all demonstrating the gift for words worth heeding. Words that move us with their lyricism, and unstill us in their pain, balance against matter-of-fact narratives that reach back to a barely cold past to show us the present, as in Anthony S. Abbott's "The Innocent Sky," which simultaneously relates 18-year-old Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the Twin Towers (it is Petit who is shown on the collection's cover) and that beautiful summer morning's "monstrous force" that left us replaying memories of "gasping breaths" and "sirens scream[ing]" and "a cloud of noxious dust" covering the "masses huddle[d] on the streets, their mouths agape." 
Barbara Presnell, in "Planting the Garden," beautifully uses metaphor to make a point about the tragic futility of war, and Jay Wentworth, in "Across the Abyss," shows us that love has no ethnic bounds. Whether you pray to God or praise Allah, 
[. . .] the stunning fullness
of a branch bent with pale blossoms
is never enough to bring back a song.
No breeze can gentle the knowledge
that somewhere in old Babylon
a father pleads for Allah, for any god
to grant him Abraham's deliverance. [. . . ]
~ Diana Pinckney ("Fallen Gardens")
Betty Adcock's "Asides" reckons with "the new weather, alien snow bearing / the incomprehensible signatures of fire" amid "a dimming of lights" around the world. Stephen Knauth's "Lament" speaks not only of the "[l]eft behind, the strict utility of things" but also of "the old mother / seated in her garden chair, / no one left to show the world to." Peter Makuck confirms that "Valery was right: we're locked outside ourselves. / Which is why poems exist.[. . . ]" (Letter to Bill Heyen"). Dorianne Laux's "Blossom" likens the wound on her burned hand "beautiful as a full-blown peony," "a flower / dying on its descent to the earth." Pat Riviere-Seel asks, not rhetorically, what it means to call oneself "American" in "a country / formed from ash and toxic dust, part zombie / apocalypse tale, part Broadway fantasy" ("When My Student Tells Me She's Afraid to Go to School"). Maureen Sherbondy, assaying 9/11's aftermath, makes clear, "If a hijacker will give away his life, his limbs / there is no negotiating, no safe landing possible" ("That Day").
Still, as Thom Young's "Trope" hints, it is possible to have "a pretty morning after the smoke."

Twenty years on, the profound issues the poems address — among them, Islamophobia, unchecked racism, nationalism, homophobia, out-sized military budgets, wars, loss of human rights, human exploitation, environmental degradation, the politics of "little Hitlers" (Phillip Shabazz, "For the Moonflower") who inflame and divide, "[t]hese half a million dead Americans." // This second mass / found in my body shortly before the pandemic. // The crushed towers. The crowned virus. / The smashing of the Capital doors. [. . .]" (Katie Kehoe, "I Was to be Tested for Cancer that Morning") — cannot be denied. We have not conquered them. But neither can we ignore another fully resonating message that the poems also mine, that

[. . .] light blooms
from darkened places:
a crevice in a flower, a new
cupped leaf. So
slow and sure, so
long past daybreak,
so welcome. So,
even ashes
even bones ground down
to dust must moisten, must
grow soft and still.
Must be penetrated by rain,
then by warmth, then
by rain again.

Must some morning
rise up, green.
~ Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin ("Tony Writes to Say He's Alive")
To read the more than 200 pages of this anthology — each poet deserves to have a line or two quoted — is to acknowledge the difficult liminal space in which we have existed for two decades, while also recalling to ourselves the presence yet of hope, the reaching out of un-fisted hands, the opening of hearts, which David Potorti describes as "mak[ing] common cause with each other, with our environment, and with the larger world."
Note: An in-person reading from Crossing the Rift is scheduled for Sunday, September 12, 2021, at 3:00 p.m., at Bookmarks Bookstore, 634 West 4th St., #110, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27101. Opening remarks will be made by the co-editors, Joseph Bathanti and David Potorti. For additional information, contact: Kevin Morgan Watson, Publisher and Editor in Chief, Press 53, at 336-770-5353 or Copies of the newly released collection will be available for purchase ($19.95 softcover; $29.95 hardcover).

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Thought for the Day

All men are like grass, and all their glory is
like the flowers of the field. The grass withers
and the flowers fall [. . . .]
~ Isaiah

Isaiah 40:6

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Thought for the Day

If I insist on giving you my truth, and never stop to receive
your truth in return, there can be no truth between us.
~ Thomas Merton
Quoted in E.J. Dionne, "The Catholic Bishops' Anti-Biden Project Is Backfiring" (Opinion), The Washington Post, June 27, 2021  (Note: Pope Francis quoted Merton in his 2015 speech to Congress.)

Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Trappist Monk, Catholic Writer

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Thought for the Day

To live with ugliness, we must hallow loveliness
the more, remembering that it often springs
from mud into light-filled air.
~ Dr Judith Farr
Quoted in Emily Langer, "Judith Farr, Scholar of Emily Dickinson and Poet in Her Own Right, Dies at 85," The Washington Post, June 23, 2021  (The excerpt is from Farr's poem "What Lies Beyond" in What Lies Beyond: Poems (Deerbrook Editions, 2019).)

Thursday, July 15, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Motherland, Oil on Linen, 2020
66" x 48"
© Bo Bartlett
I am delighted to present the work of painter and filmmaker Bo Bartlett in this month's Artist Watch at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life.
Bo, who lives and works in Columbus, Georgia, is known for his large-scale oil paintings, which one arts essayist describes as not only "delicate and austere" but also "humorous and bizarre." They belong to "a sort of nameless, indistinguishable, dreamscape America." A recipient of numerous painting awards, Bo has had many solo shows and has shown in group exhibitions across the United States.

For today's Artist Watch column, Bo has provided images of eight paintings recently on view at Miles McEnery Gallery in New York City; an Artist Statement and biography; and social media links.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Thought for the Day

Someday we will learn how to live.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye
Quoted from Naomi Shihab Nye, "What Changes"

Naomi Shihab Nye, Award-Winning Palestinian-American Poet, Author, and Editor; Professor of Creative Writing (Poetry), Texas State University

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Thought for the Day

When two loving individuals, two bearers of God's image,
are unified in an erotic embrace, there is space for something
holy. What was separate has come together. Two spirits, two
bodies, two stories are drawn so close that they are
something together that they cannot be alone. There is unity.
~ Nadia Bolz-Weber

Quoted from Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation (Convergent, 2019), page 20, in Fr. Richard Rohr, "The Holiness of Human Sexuality," Center for Action and Contemplation, June 6, 2021

Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran Pastor and Writer

Fr. Richard Rohr, Franciscan Priest; Spiritual Leader; Founder and Academic Dean, Center for Action and Contemplation; Author

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Thought for the Day

If you want a happy ending, that depends,
of course, on where you stop your story.
~ Orson Welles

Quoted from Orson Welles and Oja Kodar, The Big Brass Ring, Film Script

Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 - October 10, 1985), American Director, Actor, Screenwriter, Producer

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Thought for the Day

We must make a new map,
 together where poetry is sung.
~ Joy Harjo

Quoted from "Joy Harjo on Words as Maps, and a Poem by Craig Santos Perez" (Excerpt from Living Nations, Living Words), Literary Hub, May 25, 2021

Joy Harjo, 23rd United States Poet Laureate; Poet, Writer, Performer

Thursday, June 17, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Machu Pichu, Peru
Acrylic on Canvas
30" x 30"
© Mary Lou Dauray
Work by painter Mary Lou Dauray of California is showcased today in June's Artist Watch column at the international online art magazine Escape Into Life.

Deeply concerned about global warming, nuclear power, pollution, and other human-caused destructive forces around the world and especially in the United States, Mary Lou uses her art "to increase awareness about the ways we are destroying our planet—our home. I create artworks that present a very different view from what is found in the scientific and academic worlds, and I hope that within the challenging process of making my art I will discover in some small way how to make the world a safer place." An award-winning painter, Mary Lou shares with us a selection of work from her "National Parks" series.

Today's Artist Watch includes, in addition to seven images of recent paintings, Mary Lou's Artist Statement, biographical profile, and links to social media.

Monday, June 14, 2021

'Love in the Time of Coronavirus': A Review

Cover Art

Lockdowns and isolation. Uncertainty and fear. Suffering and grievance. Death and loss. Hope and faith and love. Poet Angela Alaimo O'Donnell's recently published collection Love in the Time of Coronavirus: A Pandemic Pilgrimage (Paraclete Press, 2021) addresses these subjects and more, from the most quotidian ("In Which I Consider My Wardrobe", "Indoor Exercise") to the religious and spiritual ("Palm Sunday", "Good Friday"), from working outside her classroom ("Wherein I Teach Literature Remotely") to waxing philosophical ("Transience").

Written in O'Donnell's signature sonnet form, the collection lends itself beautifully to its four-part (year-long, seasonal) structure, each part consisting of 14 poems, with a final 57th poem, "The Prayer", in an Epilogue. The structure creates a sonnet cycle or sequence that allows O'Donnell to inform her experience of the pandemic in its many and varied aspects, emotional and otherwise. The parts track more than a year during which O'Donnell — indeed, all of us — could go nowhere and yet "arrived where we don't want to go[,]" ultimately having to accept that once "[t]he train's on the track[,]" / It only runs forward" ("Wherein We Realize This Is Not Temporary"), as the poems themselves move us through the chronicle of O'Donnell's own journey. 

As personal meditations charting universally experienced effects of the pandemic of 2020-2021, the poems take us readers, in the same cyclical way our calendar does, through holidays (St. Patrick's Day, Shakespeare's 456th birthday, Halloween) and holy days (Easter, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany), even a national election wherein we voters aim to "fill in the ballot" and "feed the machine" in the [h]ope where we're going is not where we've been" ("Election 2020").

If one poem speaks 

[. . .] of stars, how far they were and how long
it took their light to reach our river path,
how long after it dies a star's light lasts [,]
~ "Super Moon"

another renders a scene that makes clear that everything that ever seemed normal has turned upside down:

The world is burning and we don't have a clue
how the fire started, when or where or who
lit the match [. . .]
[. . .] Every city and street
is a ghost town now. We haunt our own dreams.
The world as it used to be only seems — [. . .]
~ "The Fire"

O'Donnell's, as are our own during the past 15 months of the pandemic, are the very real feelings of the "inexorable defeat" of day piling "upon day upon day" ("House Arrest"), of longing "to go to the beautiful places" while resident in the "gray prison" that her house becomes ("Cabin Fever"), where "getting through each day becomes an art" ("Days of Hibernation") and "[n]othing is as true or certain as it seems" ("Relapse") but that "rogue wave of sadness" ("Locus Amoenus") that comes as "[c]ontagion rides on the cold blue air" ("All Hallows Eve") and the virus, in resurgence, leaves another place empty at someone's table — more than 600,000 places, eventually, as the pandemic's anniversary comes round.

Yet, even in this most devastating of circumstances, when "[t]the world's gone insane" ("Our Emmaus"), the poems urge us to take

[. . .] the tentative step, the listening
for the crack in the ice, the inkling
that the world will once more hold our weight. [. . .]
~ "Anniversary"
and give us reason enough to "bless the day that dawns on us" ("Pandemic Prayer"). 
Turning her attention to life outside her windows — "the children's voices in the park", "the pair of geese as they take flight" ("The Virus Begins to Abate"), the birds that "worship daylight's power" ("Four A.M.") — O'Donnell both reclaims and proclaims what sustains us: hope and faith and love.

[. . .] Open the windows [. . .]
to let in the breeze that blows sweet & long,
through the red maple, the cherry, the birch,
their branches clamoring with light & love,
days full of sunshine [. . .]
Now is our moment. [. . .]
No matter how leaden our hearts might be
let's lift them up. Let's let ourselves see
the courage of birds, each rose, every tree.
~ "May Song"

As in her other rewarding collections, including last year's Andalusian Hours: Poems from the Porch of Flannery O'Connor (Paraclete Press, 2020), O'Donnell, a professor at Fordham University and Associate Director of Fordham's Curran Center for American Catholic Studies, instills her poems with her mastery of craft and, with wisdom and deep appreciation for life, allows us to take strength from them.


My other reviews of Angela Alaimo O'Donnell's poetry collections:


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Thought for the Day

If we are to become partners with the Earth, living our shared
 journey, we have to once again speak the same language, listen
 with our senses attuned not just to the physical world 
but also to its inner dimension.
~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Quoted from Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, "Where the Horses Sing" (Essay), Emergence Magazine, May 23, 2021 (In addition to text, audio is provided.)

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Ph.D., Sufi Teacher, Writer, Author

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Thought for the Day

You can do this, too. You can face your own sorrow, your own
wounds. You can stop wanting some other life,
 some other past, some other reality.
~ Claude AnShin Thomas
Quoted from "Healing Takes Place Here" from the series "Trauma and Healing", Center for Action and Contemplation,  May 3, 2021

Claude AnShin Thomas, Zen Buddhist Monk; Founder, Zaltho Foundation; Author, At Hell's Gate: A Soldier's Journey from War to Peace (Shambhala, 2004); Speaker

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Thought for the Day

Geography is life's limiting factor.
~Annie Dillard
Quoted from Annie Dillard, "Life on the Rocks: The Galapagos" in Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters  (Harper Perennial, 1982), page 125
Annie Dillard, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Nonfiction Writer, Journalist, Novelist, Essayist, Poet, Short Story Writer,  and Editor

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Thought for the Day

In the short-term, distractions can keep us from doing
the things we want to do. In the longer term, however,
they can accumulate and keep us from living the lives
we want to live, or, even worse, undermine our
capacities for reflection and self-regulation.
~James Williams
Quoted from James Williams, Philosophers Take on the World, in Hala Alyan, "Turn Towards the Dark: Fear, Courage, and Surrender", Emergence, April 29, 2021
Hala Alyan, Novelist (Salt Houses, The Arsonists' City), Poet, Essayist; Clinical Psychologist

James Williams, Technology Ethicist

Thursday, May 20, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Love, Bronze
31 cm x 48 cm x 8 cm
© Dan Reisner
I am thrilled to feature the internationally known sculptor Dan Reisner as the subject of May's Artist Watch column at the online magazine Escape Into Life.
A multidisciplinary artist who specializes in outdoor sculptures, Dan, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel, creates visually striking works characterized by his deep awareness of the spaces in which he sites his large-scale bronzes. His creative process takes into account, indeed embraces and builds from, his reflections on difficult events, including, most recently, the death of George Floyd. (An image of this marvelous and moving sculpture is included in my feature.)

Today's Artist Watch column showcases eight of Dan's extraordinary works, and includes his Artist Statement and a brief biography, as well as links to Dan's Website and social media venues.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Thought for the Day

Who would turn down God?
~ Raymond Antrobus
Quoted from Raymond Antrobus, "Echo" in The Perseverance (Tin House Books, 2021)
Raymond Antrobus, Award-Winning Poet, Writer, Educator

Read Raymond Antrobus's "Echo (A Deaf Sequence)" at Poetry Foundation

Mandana Chaffa, "Twelve Poetry Collections to Read in 2021", Chicago Review of Books, April 19, 2021

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Thought for the Day

It is better to speak / remembering/
we were never meant to survive.
~ Audre Lorde
Quoted from Audre Lorde, "A Litany for Survival" in The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde (W.W. Norton, 1997)
Audre Lorde, American Poet and Writer

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Thought for the Day

As long as we deal with the real meaning of evil and sin by some 
means other than forgiveness and healing, we will keep projecting,
fearing, and attacking it over there ("scapegoating"), instead of
"gazing" on it within ourselves and "weeping" over it.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr
Quoted from Fr. Richard Rohr, "The Scapegoat Mechanism", March 28, 2021

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Thought for the Day

What would you lose to bring back a time and land //
in which everything could be believed?
~ Nicholas Samaras

Quoted from Nicholas Samaras, "Beloved Ghosts of Geography" in Image, Issue 108, Spring 2021, page 91
Nicholas Samaras, Poet and Author, Hands of the Saddlemaker and American Psalm, World Psalm

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Thought for the Day

As avatars, we've grown / more intimate
~ Eliza Griswold

Quoted from Eliza Griswold, "Six Months from Patient Zero" in Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America's Poets Respond to the Pandemic (Knopf, 2020), ed. Alice Quinn; page 51

Eliza Griswold, American Journalist and Poet; Winner, Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, 2019 (for Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America)

Thursday, April 15, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life

Hansa (Hans Versteeg), The Girl with a Fake Pearl, 2018
Oil on Canvas
46.5 cm x 40 cm
© Hansa Versteeg 

I am especially delighted to showcase work by the painter Hansa (Hans Versteeg) of Amsterdam in this month's Artist Watch column at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life

Hansa first came to my attention in 2019 when I saw a photograph of his Madonna del Mare Nostrum ("Our Lady of the Mediterranean" Or, "Cloak of Love") featured in a visual meditation at the site ArtWay, which referenced a series of contemporary "Art Stations of the Cross" of which the Madonna was Station 1. Hansa's participation in 2017 in  the religious biennial exhibition "Art in the Holy Triangle" in Oosterhout, which was followed by the artwork's inclusion in the Amsterdam "Stations" exhibition, marked a turning point for him, prompting him to change his vision of art and to concentrate almost solely on "socially committed" work.  

Today's new Artist Watch column presents a selection of images of Hansa's exceptional paintings, as well as his Artist Statement and a brief biography. Hansa's newly published book, 'Compassionism': Poetic Contemplations, co-authored with art historian and curator Aniko Toth, bears the image of the iconic Madonna. The book, which articulates Hansa's perspective on art as a means to "think through emotion" and raise awareness of complex social problems, is available through Galerie 44, where Hansa's next exhibition will take place, beginning April 16.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Thought for the Day

A day was a corridor with many doors.
~ Liz Harmer 

Quoted from Liz Harmer, "Proof" in Image, No. 108, Spring 2021; page 41

Liz Harmer, Award-Winning Canadian Poet, Novelist, Essayist, Writer, Editor, Teacher; Author, The Amateurs and Strange Loops

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

'Ambient Light': An Arts & Faith Exhibition



Continuing my arts-related work for my parish St. Michael's Episcopal Church, in Arlington, Va., I'm delighted to announce the mounting of a new exhibition: "Ambient Light: Real and Imagined". 

Thematically conceived, the virtual-only exhibition presents 47 paintings by the five artists who comprise the Studio 10 collaborative: Elisabeth (Beth) Hudgins, Kat Jamieson, Linda Maldonado, Elise Ritter, and Deborah Taylor. In addition to the images of each of the artist's contributions, the exhibit includes a Curatorial Statement, a note on the Exhibit Organization, biographical profiles of each artist, the painters' Artist Statements, and a Purchase List

Below is a painting by each of the artists.

Elisabeth (Beth) Hudgins (Theme: Energy in Light)

 Lake Dream Luster, Acrylics, 17" x 21"


Kat Jamieson (Theme: Light Over Water)

 Bioluminescence, Watercolor, 14" x 18" x 1.75"


Linda Maldonado (Theme: Emergence)

Red Dazzle, Watermedia Collage, 14" x 14"

Elise Ritter (Theme: Out of Darkness Comes the Light)

Dreams of the Afterlife, Acrylics, 18" x 13" X 1.5"


Deborah Taylor (Theme: Crown Shyness)

When I am Among the Trees, Oil, 8" x 10"

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Thought for the Day

absence makes the heart. / like water, i learn
what shape to take // based on the space i must fill today.
~ Fargo Tbakhi
Quoted from Fargo Tbakhi, "american-Palestinian incantation", Poetry Daily, March 6, 2021

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Thought for the Day

In the midst of so much coming apart,
I wonder, where is home? Where is our unshakable core,
that place beyond which no harm can reach?
~ Fred Bahnson
Quoted from Fred Bahnson, "Keeping the World in Being: Meditations on Longing", Emergence Magazine,  Online Essay

Fred Bahnson, Author and Essayist; Director, Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, Wake Forest University School of Divinity; Co-Founder and Former Director, Anathoth Community Garden

Fred Bahnson on Twitter