Upholding Mystery: An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Poetry

By McMahon, Robert | Anglican Theological Review, Winter 1999 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Upholding Mystery: An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Poetry


McMahon, Robert, Anglican Theological Review


Upholding Mystery: An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Poetry. Edited by David Impastato. New York/ Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. 369 pp. $25.00 (cloth).

In this delightful volume, David Impastato has made selections from the works of fifteen contemporary poets and arranged them under sixteen different topics, beginning with The Cross and ending with The Holy. The volume is designed less for lovers of poetry who happen to be Christians than for Christians who might be induced to read poetry for insights into their Christian experience. Some of these writers have enjoyed reputations for decades: Daniel Berrigan, Wendell Berry, Geoffrey Hill, Denise Levertov, Richard Wilbur and, in Australia, Les Murray. Annie Dillard, Andrew Hudgins, and Kathleen Norris are perhaps the best-known among the younger poets, who are rounded out by Scott Cairns, David Citino, David Craig, Maura Eichner, Louise Erdrich, and David Brendan Hopes. Impastato explains in his "Introduction" that he chose these poets "because their work is not only 'Christian' but 'good' " and because they have been writing long enough to engage "the struggle, contradiction, change, and depth that characterizes the spiritual journey" (p. xxvi).

The sixteen topics of the collection attempt to embrace the full range of Christian experience: from its extraordinary heights (Transformation, Grace) and depths (Injustice, The Dark) to its ordinary joys (Love, Praise) and struggles (Wayfarers, The Leap). Impastato has provided brief introductory notes for each of these sections and for most of the poems. The compiler of an anthology, like the writer of dictionaries and (let it be said) a translator of the Bible, is liable to suffer "the fate of those who toil at the lower employments of life," for his work can always be carped at. Impastato knows that he can and will be criticized for his choice of poets, his selection of poems, and for his various introductory notes being either too obvious or not enlightening enough. Yet despite whatever defects I feel the book to have in these respects, I do not intend to carp at Impastato's achievement, for his selection of poems and his introductory notes become intelligible by understanding his intended audience.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Upholding Mystery: An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Poetry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?