About Peggy Rosenthal

I'm a writer of prose about poetry. I'm interested in all the arts, in how creativity informs our lives. But most of my published books help readers to read poetry in a meditative way. I teach an online course on this at Image Journal.

The Birmingham Project

I was looking into the eyes of a black girl around thirteen years old. She looked back, her eyes pensive and a bit sullen. Then I shifted my gaze to the black woman seated as if next to her, about fifty years her senior. The woman’s eyes were those of a survivor, the eyes of someone who has lived through and somehow managed to transcend unimaginable pain.

What this woman from Birmingham, Alabama had survived was the racial violence that overtook her city in the early 1960s. The federal government had ordered Alabama’s public schools to de-segregate; Governor George Wallace was determined to resist.

[Read more...]

#BlackLivesMatter to Poets

15776028730_4963de50d0_zPoets are rising to the cause, hands raised (“Don’t shoot!”) but hands also holding pencils and paper or at the computer keys, writing poems.

The cause I refer to is clear to anyone who has lived in this country since August 9, 2014, the date of Michael Brown’s murder. It’s not a new cause, alas; racial injustice has never been absent from our land.

But what’s new—and hopeful—is the depth and breadth of public outcry. It had actually begun a couple weeks earlier, with the caught-on-camera police choking of Eric Garner, then swelled as Michael Brown’s dead body lay for four and a half hours in the street.

Then in late November-early December, the swell became a roar of indignation, as black Americans felt slap after slap after slap on the face of their worth as human beings: on November 22, the police killing (“when will they ever learn?”) of twelve-year old Tamir Rice, playing in a public park; on November 24, the non-indictment of the police officer who killed Brown; on December 3, the non-indictment of the police officer who had choked Eric Garner to death. [Read more...]

Thinking About Poverty

homeless-man-sleeping-with-his-bible1What better time than Advent to ponder what poverty means? After all, Christ became poor for our sakes, emptying himself of his divinity as he emptied himself into our humanity.

So what does poverty mean? Here are some dictionary definitions:

Poverty (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary):

1a: the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions; b: renunciation as a member of a religious order of the right as an individual to own property; 2: scarcity, dearth 3a: debility due to malnutrition; b: lack of fertility (of the soil).

[Read more...]

Mantras for Advent

advent-wreathLast year at this time I wrote about suggestions my spiritual director had given me for living within Advent’s special gift. For Advent this year, I want to share some of the other ways I’ve found over the years of to observe this graced season.

Mostly, I’ve loved mantras.

At the start of each Advent, I’ve chosen a quotation that carries for me Advent’s special texture of waiting in hope; I’ve written out the quote to put on the kitchen table. Before dinner each Advent evening, my husband and I say the words together.

[Read more...]

Inside My Nostalgia Box

SeventeenLook at my new Easter eggs.
Red and blue with yellow legs.
See them run around and around.
Then they tumble on the ground
.

I’ve just discovered this intriguingly surrealist verse in a box in my attic labeled “Nostalgia.” The box has been sitting there for decades, and I got curious recently about what might be in it. Judging from the large, carefully printed lettering of this poem, I’d guess it’s from first grade, before I’d learned cursive.

Examples of my literary juvenilia abound in this box. I’ll spare you most of them. But one poem from my high-school literary magazine, Inkling, stands out for me. Called “Waiting,” it begins:

On a battered bench in a city park
Sits a man—old, tired, and weak;
On his aged skin there is many a mark—
A scar on his neck. A cut on his cheek
.

[Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X