A Horse with Holes in It (Review Series)

Each month I review a new book for ImageUpdate. Here’s the latest.

horse_browndervillePoetry of Visions
A Horse with Holes in It
by Greg Alan Brownderville

Biblical visions, for all their bewildering oddity—Ezekiel’s wheels, Isaiah’s live coal to the lips—can carry a realer-than-real-life quality. A cover tears away; everything sharpens. If you’re drawn to that cocktail of wonder and fear, read Greg Alan Brownderville’s newest poetry collection A Horse with Holes in It, in which every poem summons a jolted-to-attention quality. Find here a man building an altar of aquariums for a “spirit wife” named Easy Lee; the sacrifice of 5,000 red-wing blackbirds; a “black-and-gold sweater” that “gave me the power of bumble flight;” an experimental art project involving body shots off a mannequin Eurydice. Pieces of Brownderville’s childhood world—Arkansas earth, Pentecostal church—burn like flecks of red pepper through these poems, but so too do allusions to Georges Braque, Parthenon statues, and the goddess Isis. The poet wanders this tense psychic ground between rural South and “Midtown Lounge, the poets’ pub.”

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Mad Maudlin

I’ve started brewing poems lately, after a long time of not.

the circus of our yard on the cusp of fall

the circus of our yard on the cusp of fall

A bit about this one: For many years, I’ve been drawn to a character named Mad Maudlin, who appears in 17th and 18th century Bedlamite ballads. She was the female counterpart to a “Mad Tom o’Bedlam” character, the catch-all term for asylum inmates released to the London streets and left to beg alms.

Most Bedlamite lyrics are from Mad Tom’s point of view—but years ago, I learned to sing one from Mad Maudlin’s, in which she’s been parted from Tom o’Bedlam and goes on a ravenous, lunatic quest to find him.

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I’ll Follow You Into the Dark (Song Series #16)

Jennings Music Building, Bennington College

Jennings Music Building, Bennington College

Possibly this song was written for people like my husband and me. If there’s an afterlife, I don’t know what it’s going to do with us. Rob: Even-keeled, generous, good-hearted agnostic. Me: Moody, half-the-time decent, often-skeptical, pretty left-of-center Christian. I’ve dragged him to Costa Rica and Greece and road-tripping and tent camping all around the country. He’s shown me the quiet pleasures of staying put. Neither of us is going anywhere important without the other.

When we come to the door of the great beyond, if such there be, I think we may sit busking forever just outside the fence, just playing this song, until they start throwing the rotten fruit of Eden at us.

I’ll Follow You Into the Dark

Guitar: Rob Hinst

Vocal: Jen Hinst-White

Written by Ben Gibbard

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Quirky Sermons

Preaching my first sermon at seven months pregnant, 12/1/2013.

Preaching my first sermon at seven months pregnant, 12/1/2013.

I get the pleasure & privilege of giving sermons from time to time, usually from the stage of True North Community Church, a non-denominational Christian church on Long Island. I love it.  I usually crack up laughing in the middle of it. I feel so lucky to do it.

Just so you know: I’ve never gone to seminary; my education consists of a BA and MFA in Writing & Literature. But if you’re curious how a non-religiously-raised writer ended up preaching oddball Christian sermons, see the bottom of this post.

All these videos start with the band, so you’ll have to skip forward a bit to find the sermon…

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More Surprise (Advent for the Skeptical and Weary, Part 6)

I started this series because I started this season feeling skeptical and weary. If you want to catch up, I’ve written about my petulant Christmas card processseasonal depression, the difficulty of hope, and being burnt out on giving and serving. Also: whiskey, crappy chocolate, and our troubling President-elect. Yes, it’s been merry indeed.

But in my last post I started exploring something I hadn’t given much credence to in this series yet: Surprise.

Among the questions I was mulling over this Advent was this:

What to do in a season of giving when you feel like you have nothing more to give?

Infographic from Mercy Corps, which is assisting 470,000 Syrians every month.

Infographic from Mercy Corps, which is assisting 470,000 Syrians every month.

know there is no requirement—ethically, religiously, cosmically, socially, even personally—to give anything more in the weeks leading up to Christmas than at any other time of the year, but something about consciously observing Advent made me want to. I had just written about how Advent looks forward to a better, more just and loving world. However, I also know that thinking of doing anything extra sounds stupid and masochistic when I’ve written so much about feeling spent. Like, hey idiot, just take a pass this year.

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Surprise (Advent for the Skeptical and Weary, Part 5)

I started this series because I started this season feeling skeptical and weary. If you want to catch up, I’ve written about my petulant Christmas card process, seasonal depression, the difficulty of hope, and being burnt out on giving and serving. Also: whiskey, crappy chocolate, and our troubling President-elect. Yes, it’s been merry indeed.

What I haven’t gotten to yet is surprise.

I ended my last post with a conundrum…

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