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Thursday, February 20, 2014

"St Peter's B-List" (Mary Ann B. Miller)

TITLE: St. Peter's B-list: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints
AUTHOR: Mary Ann B. Miller
PUBLISHER: Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2014, (288 pages).

Poetry brings about an "incarnative view of art." So affirms Mary Ann Miller, professor of English at Caldwell College in New Jersey. She believes that there are many manifestations of the Divine God in the world we live in. As one well versed in Victorian poetry, Miller avoids choosing poems from a historical past by past saints, but includes poems from contemporary times by people in the present. She maintains a focus on daily activities being expressed through poems that help readers reflect back on their own lives. All 106 poets in this book try to see the "immanence of God in earthly things." The title of the book is actually from one of the poems used in the book, written by Jake Oresick, printed at the end of the book. The book is about ordinary lives, people who are on the "B-list" in the world, especially when compared to the saints who are on the "A-list." Oresick offers readers a glimpse of hat heaven looks like, through ordinary people. Thirty six poems fill the section on Family and Friends. Forty-Four poems are included for the section on Faith and Worship. Twenty-Five poems are used for the section on Sickness and Death.

The poems remind us that life is not about "right vs wrong," or "good vs bad." Neither is it about solving problems or finding a way to get things done. Life is about telling a story, making observations, and admiring the beauty among the ordinary. The many contributions from poets from all walks of life give us a picture of ordinariness among people, with a hint that it may be the way God looks at us as well. Pure, unadulterated, and unedited in any way. We see people, relationships, objects, and things as they are, not what we want them to be. Miller has brought together an impressive array of contributors, authors, poet laureate, all coming from different parts of the world.  This gives the book a wide perspective of life. I particularly appreciate James Martin's afterword, which is an extremely quotable part of the book. Here is one exceptional one.

"The most important truths about God are not reached with definitions and proofs but by poems and stories. And by people: the saints. That is why this book is a treasure. These poets take the lives of the saints as they are meant to be understood: as poems. From human works of art they draw out literary ones.You are called to be a saint, too. What will your poem be?" (James Martin)
This in itself is worth the price of the book.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Ave Maria Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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