Magazine article World Literature Today

Holy Heathen Rhapsody

Magazine article World Literature Today

Holy Heathen Rhapsody

Article excerpt

Pattiann Rogers. Holy Heathen Rhapsody. New York. Penguin. 2013. isbn 9780143123880

Pattiann Rogers's poems in Holy Heathen Rhapsody inspire a feeling of transcendence in using language to create a riotous sense of abandon and a joyous pleasure upon experiencing blooming, burgeoning nature at all sides.

The art of a poet who uses nature and natural processes to express a condition of beingness and to explore states of mind is often measured in the precision and concreteness of the objects and events used as a foundation for the poetics. By that measure, Pattiann Rogers succeeds and also puzzles, for her poetry contains descriptions that are both concrete and elusive, and it is punctuated by stirring dissonances of scientific and sacred discourses, as in "The Doxology of Shadows" as well as others.

The poems in Holy Heathen Rhapsody contain a precision of description that at times echoes the form of an Anglo-Saxon catalog poem while also invoking the blending of the natural and the spiritual in Romantic aesthetics. However, the literary antecedents are overshadowed by the way she brings together religious forms and a natural spirituality, blending the sacred with the secular in restless, surging energies evocative of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

Her ways of describing the blossoming meadows and the damp, richscented forest include the use of the language of geographical information systems and of geometry. In "Hail, Spirit," the processes result in selfconsciousness: the poem describes a spider weaving her web and her daily work, which centers on "the reading of her soul. …

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