In the latest Image Journal update, they reviewed St. Peter’s B-list! They even gave a shout out (bolded below) to my poem, “St. Pachomius of the Unemployed.” Totally made my date
St. Peter’s B-List by Mary Ann B. Miller
A chorus of diverse voices brings the saints to life in unexpected ways in this spirited collection, St. Peter’s B-List: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints. This is a highly enjoyable book, well-developed and curated by Miller, a gifted editor who has gathered over 100 poems on the saints without redundancy or narrowness. Some of the speakers are parents, deep in the trenches of everyday struggle, as in Martha Silano’s opening poem, “Poor Banished Children of Eve.” It begins as a kind of creed (“I believe in the dish in the sink”) then dips headlong into a version of the Lord’s prayer: “Lead us away from the temptation to chuck it all flee / to Thetis Island and glory be to dishwashing liquid / and the sponge glory to the microwave and Mr. Coffee.” Further along, Brian Doyle builds a wonderful defense of faith upon the theme of parenthood, beginning with Santa Caterina, who “conversed at length with the One Whom No Name Can Encompass / …he called her dearest daughter.” And for Kelli Russell Agodon, St. Pio (“Patron Saint of Worry”) remains a constant in the unfolding story of motherhood. Along with another friend and mother, she confesses: “We still pray though worry / we’re hard to please.” There’s humor here, too. St. Francis heads to yoga, at home among the Downward Dogs, the Cat, Cow, and Happy Baby poses, and in “St. Pachomius of the Unemployed,” one of the most delightful of the collection, we find the saint striding alongside a downtrodden but dogged pursuer of gainful employment. Even Santa Claus shows up, in an extended conversation wherein St. Nick is unemployed, estranged from his wife, broke, and endlessly thirsty for beer. In balance, there are also breathtakingly earnest poems, like Franz Wright’s stunning “Say My Name,” a poem of longing and loss that hinges on a few spare images inside St. Paul’s. Or Edward Hirsch’s sonically rich triptych “Away from Dogma,” which explores moments from Simone Weil’s biography. And there are poems like “St. Vincent de Paul’s Food Pantry Stomp” in which the saint in question is little more than a name for the speaker, but who still seems to witness and shelter, in some way, that speaker’s humanity. Whether deliberately or otherwise, the saints walk among us through this collection—bright with love, odd, downright scary sometimes—and yet vividly real for each speaker in very personal ways.
Purchase your copy here.