Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Perfect Book for Advent

I always look for ways to inject some spiritual elements into Advent, that season before Christmas that can be hectic and draining.  This year I plan to delve into this book, Annunciation, a collection of poems and illustrations.

I am one of the sixteen poets included, but even if I wasn't, I would still want this book.  I'm interested in how the writing and art respond to the purpose of the book:

"The annunciation story is a complicated foundational story in western culture. Patriarchies have used Mary as a model for ideal female acceptance, faith, and submission to authority, while at the same time millions of people have identified with her courage, suffering, and patience, and accorded her their personal devotion and deep respect.

I suspect that if we look closely, most of us may have been touched by her story in some way
. I want to encourage you to look at the annunciation from a modern point of view, as contemporary poets of different cultural backgrounds. Your work can be religious or secular, traditional or decidedly not, written in  a feminist light, a current-events light, a personal light. I'm not looking for any particular type of thrust or interpretation, but rather a broad range of responses to this story and this person we know as Mary.  I want to encourage you to think deeply and fearlessly, and to write from your hearts."

My purple legal pad where I write poems shows me that I was playing with the Gabriel idea before I saw this post of Beth Adam's art that she posted in January.  I had the idea during Advent, the mingling of the thought of John the Baptist as that homeless guy under the overpass, the idea of God coming where we least expect to find the Divine, and the godlessness of South Florida. 

Then in January, Beth posted this picture:

When I saw her post on a day when I saw other images that spoke to me of Gabriel, I wrote a blog post about the poem I was trying to write.  That blog post led to an electronic conversation with Beth, which has led to my poem being included in the book.

The book is reasonably priced, especially for a book that includes art.  And if you order now, you can get a discount.  Even better, 10% of the proceeds from this book will be donated directly to refugee relief for women.

Like I said, it's the perfect book for Advent, that season where we will hear Mary's story, that rare time in the Bible where a woman takes center stage--two if you count Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, also improbably pregnant.

I also like that purchases of this book support old-fashioned book publishing, a small press that has done much to support poetry.  The book is 72 pages, which is a larger book than I was expecting, but not so large as to be a daunting reading for Advent.

In an early e-mail to participants, Beth Adams wrote:    "Religion is never simple, how it affects our own identities is never simple, and neither is the role of women within society, no matter how far we think we've come. I think this story has been a foundational one for western societies, and worth a closer look in our own time."

This book provides a perfect starting point.

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