Daniel Tobin

Contributor Biography

Daniel Tobin is the author of eight books of poems, Where the World is Made, Double Life, The Narrows, Second Things, Belated Heavens (winner of the Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry, 2011), The Net (2014), From Nothing (2016), and Blood Labors (2018). The New York Times named Blood Labors one of the Best Poetry Books of the year for 2018. He is also the author of the critical studies Passage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney, Awake in America and On Serious Earth: Poetry and Transcendence, a collection of essays. He is the editor of The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, The Selected Poems and Lola Ridge, Poet's Work, Poet's Play: Essays on the Practice and the Art, and To the Many: The Collected Early Works of Lola RidgeThe Stone in the Air, his suite of versions from the poetry of Paul Celan, appeared from Salmon Poetry (Ireland). Among his awards are the “The Discovery/The Nation Award,” The Robert Penn Warren Award, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize, the Massachusetts Book Award, the Julia Ward Howe Award, and creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. 

From “AT THE GRAVE OF TEILHARD DE CHARDIN”

No, you do not ask anything unattainable of me.  You merely, through your revelation and your grace, force what is most human in me to become conscious of itself at last. Humanity was sleeping—it is still sleeping—imprisoned in the narrow joys of its little closed loves.

 

                                                                                    Teilhard de Chardin

 

 

(Hands)

 

                                                George Barbour

 

To fall forward stage by stage till the end of the world,

that’s what he would say, my old friend with his kit-box

and breviary, his pack of Jobs, him chain-smoking them

 

year in year out from Tientsin to Transvaal, field notes

and skulls, his eyes keen for every jigsaw bit of bone,

Sinanthropus, Australopithicus, Miocene, Pleistocene,

 

all the way to this later infancy, this thinking envelope

of consciousness expanding, he held, like a living net—

one mind woven with all minds, drawn to the Ahead.

 

At Chou-Kou-Tien I’d use crayons to track sediment

with colors on my note-pad; he would keep gradations

like prisms in his head—drawings sharp as photographs.

 

Nights, at the fire, we would talk of his God of Tension

that carries the species on through every random spur.

Like that time on the steps of the Yamen, when a mule

 

struck him with its hind leg on the temple—the blister

the size of a bloody pigeon’s egg—he quoted Li Po:

“It’s as hard to travel in Szechuan as to climb to Heaven.”

 

And when my son died, near his own death, he wrote:

“I am convinced what looks like meaningless catastrophe

transforms itself into blessing,” And even those graves

 

at Tsinling, no stones, no names? Look at the hands,

spit-painted on cave walls, as if raised to brace a fall:  No.

They’re moving, they’re making their way through rock.

(Ensemble)

 

                                                    Emile Licent

 

The language of wings even in the hold of my nets

eluded me, was the limit for this listener: swallowtails

in brush lands when we’d leave behind the concession

 

to venture beyond the Great Wall into the Ordos.

And “Teh,” as the locals called him, always thinking,

working borderlands between spheres of knowledge,

 

his science, his mysticism. Strange, to watch him eying

the escarpments, where Pei found the treasured skull

in travertine, so proficient in the past, still so pitched

 

to the future, what he saw to be the end of distances

where across infinities of scale the whole ensemble,

risen out of the random, from instinct into thought,

 

converges to its final cause. As for me, I collected

and prayed, expert in the language of what’s required,

and built the needed thing in the time it was needed:

 

my museum, born out of the practicum of expedition,

not the wisps of vision. No wonder we sometimes

nearly came to blows. Still, technically, were one blest

 

to see down the bottom gneiss of things, see through

the layers like elemental parts of a language—words,

syllables, letters—to glimpse at once a substantial form

 

that had wrested mountains from the near nothing

below their base, sentience from loaded chemical dice,

persons from bacterium, would one not kneel in praise?


 

(Mirror)

 

                                             Marguerite-Marie “Guigite” de Chardin

When I read the draft of his Milieu I knew the mirror

of my life in his had found new life in it, that sickness

never comes to diminish, but quickens God’s own life

 

in us, us in God’s life. As he reflects, “Death’s the sum

of all our diminishments, though we overcome death

by finding God in it.” And so, it was for Alberic, Louise,

 

for Francoise, Gabriel, for us all, and my own affliction

a kind of brute spectacle that begets the inner flowering

that was my life at Sarcenat, as the Sacred Heart blazed

 

in the foyer, as it did when we were children, my body

bedridden thirty years, my life his dreamt Imitatio Cristi

while my dear brother crossed, crisscrossed continents

 

unerringly errant, arrow to my base on a compass rose.

As in de Hooch’s imagined Delft, two figures travel

in mirror passages, one away from, one into the light,

 

or like mirror particles, chiral, contrarily handed, light,

again, invariant until its symmetry shatters ahead, so it is

in this looking glass world of scattered entanglements.

 

When I died, it was as though he was looking at Earth

from an immense distance, blue atmosphere, the green

of vegetation, then ever-more luminous—thought itself,

 

then ever deeper: the darkness of suffering, growing

sharper with consciousness, the widening inflorescence.

And God gazing out, gazing in at the flung reflections.

Nicole Ann Law

Contributor Biography

Nicole Ann Law is a Catholic podcaster with a love for storytelling. Her repertoire ranges from short prose and poetry to multiple podcasts to amplify His Glory. Focused on bringing His human face to others through real stories of struggle and hope, Nicole gently leads her audience into reflecting and looking inward to move forward. Join her in this wonderful journey to bring the reality of His presence to others on Spotify at nourishthesoul

Three Meditations

I.

 

The artist births meaning from what already exists, which traces its source to

the Creator himself. The Master artist himself created each person in His image

and likeness and constructed the very tools the artist uses. Rather than an individual pursuit of beauty, the artistic endeavour is an act of co-creation and cooperation with the One who brought everything into being.

 

II.

The created work is an expression of grace, an ineffable encounter with the

Divine. It is not I who paints or draws or dances. I am a vessel for the Spirit to

work through me.

 

III.

 

His heart is a ripened fruit, yielding to slight pressure, cut open to give life to all

who hunger. His is the soft voice that calms the storm brewing. His are the soft hands welcoming the tired soul home past midnight. His heart is also the burnished steel rod, unyielding to the fire, slicing through the unruly undergrowth. His is the strong arm that holds the sky secure. His are the shoulders that bear my burden gladly in the shape of a wooden cross.