Skip to main content

Unquiet Vigil: New and Selected Poems by Paul Quenon





Unquiet Vigil: New and Selected Poems by Paul Quenon, OCSO

This new collection of new and selected poems called Unquiet Vigil by Paul Quenon is remarkable in their clarity and vision.  Included in the book are poems from 1996 all the up to new ones.  The What-not poems are Paul’s wrestling with writer’s block and coming out to describe the process on the other end.  Paul writes in the opening lines of the book that “These poems are a circling around silence to see and watch what is heard, a use of words to fin in hearing what is not quite seen.  Writing has been for me, in a broad sense, a way of vigil-keeping, of making the watch something more of my own (5).”  Yet, as the title indicates, there is profound sense of restlessness involved with vigil-keeping.
In the second part of the first poem, Gone Missing, Paul brings us to the time when writer’s block hit him in the gut.  He writes, 
           “Words eluded me like tall
           White tails of winter-grey deer,
           ghosts in flight through trees (13).”

You might get a small glimpse of word here or there, but the words were beyond grasping, leaving one’s sight like deer running through a forest.  In Little Rascal, Paul begs the question how it is that “birds who come in plain jackets sing so extravagantly (20)?”  The appearances of the bird don’t give the impression that the bird would sing so sweetly, but the diamond notes must have come from on High.  The description that Paul gives us lights up the natural landscape of forests, birds, larks, and figures. 

What I found quite amazing about Paul’s poetry is the way he uses very familiar stories we all have heard and imbues them with comedy.  In That Time At Cana, he tells of Jesus at the wedding of Cana by peering on what the people around him would have thought.  He writes,
          
           “But the boys and I got to laughing
-        We couldn’t help it –
And went ahead and just did whatever he told us (135).”

They thought it was a wicked joke, but instead it was true, the water would be turned into wine, even the choicest wine.  Peering over the shoulders into the story,  Paul brings out the amusement of the whole situation and the miraculous nature of the story.  They were expecting the worst and instead they got the good stuff. 

I really enjoyed these poems from Paul Quenon and know you will also.


Thanks to Paraclete Press for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.: A Journey Through Loss with Art and Color

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes by Roger Hutchison

Taking a look at the digital copy of this book allowed me to look at the striking art inside the book, and its connection to the words of the page that were focusing on loss.  Looking at the physical copy of the book even brings to life more the staggering similarity that the words and pain have together on the page.  The focus here is how certain colors express the sentiments of those who have lost a loved one.  I did not think that I would relate too well to this book until two days ago, as we lost our little boy, who was only 17 weeks old.  The pain is palpable and yet the pages of this book give me good reason to think of my son with a sense of pride and hope.

Roger writes, "You are a shooting star. Your light trails across the heavens.  I blinked and you were gone."  We were full of anticipation at the first and second ultrasounds, and there was the picture of our little boy Jackson, his developing face and little …

The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor
A profound simplicity of thought, a penetrating vision of what it means to be human, Flannery O’Connor embodies the spirit of bringing fictional stories to life.  Others might call her fiction ‘grotesque’ in a rather unflattering manner, but O’Connor was not content to live up to their criticisms.  In this short book of collected essay and lectures, Mystery and Manners, editors and friends of Flannery, Robert and Sally Fitzgerald have given us a glimpse into the vision of her faith, style and life as a writer.   A lifelong Catholic, Flannery O’Connor sought to wed together the moral integrity of her faith with the character of her craft in writing.  Specifically, fiction for her was an exploration in imitation.
In a rather illuminating statement in the chapter entitled, “A Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South, “ O’Connor writes,
“I am specifically concerned with fiction because that is what I write.  There is a certain em…