Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Saint Peter and the Goldfinch

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Saint Peter and the Goldfinch

Article excerpt

SAINT PETER AND THE GOLDFINCH

By Jack Ridl (Wayne State University Press, 2019)

There's an old joke that defines an optimist as an accordion player with a pager. (You know it's an old joke because of the word pager.) One could add that an optimist is a poet who expects their book to sell. People don't buy books of poetry. I get it if the poetry is dull, obtuse, and puzzling. But when an exquisite collection comes along like Saint Peter and the Goldfinch, our aversion is bewildering.

This book deserves an audience. Jack Ridl, one of North America's master poets, writes with tenderness, courage, perception, and love. Consider these lines from the first poem in his "Suite for the Long Married": "No longer needing / a reason to live, we let ourselves be." The long married have the comfort of just "being," because, as the poem puts it, "The bins of wants are full." There is maturity here as well as insight and understanding. …

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