John Slater’s Lean

dying branch with tiny yellow leaves laid across a white table cloth in the afternoon.What is poetry, anyway? I found myself musing about this as I sat with John Slater’s stimulating new collection, Lean.

First I recalled what I’d once heard poet Li Young Lee say at a reading:

In poetry, language is not the only medium; silence is also a medium. This is a difference of poetry from prose. We might even say that, in poetry, the very purpose of the language is to inflect the silences. It’s like after church bells ring: the air resonates with their sound. In poetry, the silences are resonant, from the language that precedes them.

Slater’s poems are as full of silences as of words. First, the poems themselves are—as the book’s title suggests—lean. With one exception, each poem’s lines run from one to four words. So there’s an invited silence at the end of each brief line. Then another, longer reverberating silence: many of the poems present an image, followed by a space with a * in it, followed by another image stanza, then another spaced *… and so on.

Take the whole of the poem “Thaw”:

thaw freeze
pot-holes in
salty grey-
black asphalt

seam between
by faded
golden broken
[Read more…]

Why We Donate: Two 24-Year-Olds on Meaningful Support

Today, Image Director of Programs Tyler McCabe and Marketing Associate Aubrey Allison share their perspectives on the future of art, fostering a culture of empathy, and the role of religion in a thriving inner life.

Brothers and Sisters 1_rgd cropped small
Ruth Weisberg. Sisters and Brothers (detail): Wellspring.

Citizens of the Future

By Tyler McCabe

When I was seventeen I took a course in environmental biology at my local community college. The professor charged into the classroom on our first day, spilled her raincoat and bags around the lectern, and shouted in the language of fanfare: Welcome, citizens of the future!

By the end of this course, she said, we would begin to envision ourselves this way, as citizens riding waves of our own creation, agents of actions rippling forward. And she was not shy about implicating our wallets—even my adolescent wallet with my trickle of income.

We vote with our dollars, she said. It’s the truest vote we have. For example, when you buy a hamburger at McDonald’s, you are voting Yes, I approve of the whole environment surrounding this product: the farming practices, the treatment of the farmers and plant processing staff, the global franchise system, the foundation’s efforts, the pay and benefits of the employees, the waste disposal—all of it.

In the fullness of its action, your $1.39 buys you a big question.

What will be the environment of my future citizenship? [Read more…]

A Christian Writer Drops the F-Bomb: 25 Years of Image

To celebrate Image’s twenty-fifth anniversary we are posting a series of essays by people who have encountered our programs over the years.

Guest post by Cathy Warner

It was a reading at a memorial service that got me riled.

“Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room.” Don’t be sad, my pastor read, “All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.”

Watching the tearful widow, who’d now be living alone after forty years, I was unconvinced and angry the dead man’s missive denied the living their grief.

I penned an alternative letter, then another, and another, until I imagined half a dozen dead—an aged father, alcoholic wife, young solider, child molester, husband who succumbed to cancer—writing from the beyond to those they’d loved and those they’d wronged. [Read more…]

Whispers of Faith in a Postmodern World

The Wall Street Journal featured this article by Image founder and editor Gregory Wolfe on Friday, January 11, 2013:

Among our national pastimes, there is none more persistent than the ritual lament over the decline and fall of the arts. The death of the novel . . . the end of painting . . . if an art form exists, we’re willing to believe it has seen better days.

Religious believers are equally prone to this sort of thing, and they often give it their own spin. One version goes like this….

Read more at The Wall Street Journal.