Friday, September 25, 2009

from my Canticles (2007), poems and photos.

Canticle lix

You must now enter the silence alone and listen. Wait.
Wait for the translation of the first line. Write.
Write with your fingers searching the pigments on the palate
for the essential shading of the right
image. The medium frames the sacred intercession.

To give face, posture, and voice to the holy is no trite
matter. And where humility unveils some gracious incarnation,
offer first this blessed sacrament to the King of saints. 

from Canticles (2007)
(c) John Robert Lee
(c) Turquoise, photo by John Robert Lee

Arts and Faith (Powered by Invision Power Board)

Arts and Faith (Powered by Invision Power Board)

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Image: Art, Faith, Mystery

Image: Art, Faith, Mystery

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

more work in progress

At Mount Pleasant, St. Lucia

On the radio, classical music from horizon-clear Martinique.

Mid-December, mid-afternoon, light breezes under the over-spreading mango,
across envined palmiste, through the abandoned garden, and you imagine the shadows
lacquered, set. The antique
stone staircase reduced to one forlorn curve and a few broken flagstones
leans against the shade. In the frame, between grasses, is that an egret?
Pastoral pauses at Mount Pleasant, above Castries, in sight of Morne du Don villas,
high palms edging
the drift of hill across its barricade

of blue bent space.
Obama, certain strained friendships, the graduation of apprentices,
afternoon softening to pastel, numinous,
over Choc's procession of bright stones - what urgent
apocalypse hesitates to interrupt the coralita flirting among golden crotons?

On the radio, creole music of Malavoi from Martinique.

(c) John Robert Lee

(c) photographs by John Robert Lee


Monday, September 21, 2009

from Thomas Merton

from Thomas Merton's The New Man, 1961.
"The mark of true life in man is therefore not turbulence but control, not effervescence but lucidity and direction, not passion but the sobriety that sublimates all passion and elevates it to the clear inebriation of mysticism. The control we mean here is not arbitrary and tyrannical control by an interior principle which can be called, variously, a "super-ego" or a pharisaical conscience: it is the harmonious coordination of man's powers in striving for the realization of his deepest spiritual potentialities. It is not so much a control of one part of man by another, but the peaceful integration of all man's powers into one perfect actuality which is his true self, that is to say his spiritual self."   pg12.

 Wordsworth spoke of "emotion recollected in tranquillity", Eliot of "the still point." And Frost wrote of the "momentary stay against confusion."

(c) photograph by John Robert Lee. In Canticles (2007).

work in progress

-Hebrews 2:14

Out of the creeping undergrowth of manuscripts
words line themselves with the body of the page
immaculately. Leaving decorated margins
of our modest codex, we ache to glimpse the enraptured
end of the art of faith. In the font's innocent concavities
we imagine bold faces of eager messengers.
At the edge of improbable translation, we are assuaged
by incredible epiphanies cradling

in paperback covers.
                                  Herod's night raiders read
Bethlehem right. The local chapter of Moloch
plots the setting of the star. Mythology
parses into facts: angels, shepherds, feeding trough -
where, in this part of the prologue,
the Death Eater's mother paraphrases His gurgles to the kneeling kings.

(c) John Robert Lee  from work in progress.
(c) Photograph by John Robert Lee.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 7th 2001

Signing on

On this 9/11, eight years on, I'm signing on for the Blog experience. We'll see how it goes. I want to think through issues of faith and art, with special interest in the Caribbean historical context. I am a Christian writer - meaning that my writing (poetry and prose) is influenced by my orthodox, Protestant Christian faith. My accompanying interests in media and education will no doubt impinge on the thinking through.
Question: Where are the Caribbean Christian artists, epecially writers - in a region that has been predominantly influenced by Christianity? How is their faith reflected in their work? The Christian literary tradition is a great one. One can find in the international sphere a few serious journals that follow the meeting of faith and art. I think of IMAGE from Seattle, Washington. In the contemporary Caribbean, increasingly secular (though still very religious) where are the Christian artists? I'm talking about serious artists and writers - concerned about craft and shaping, for whom their faith in Christ is also crucial. Where is the dialogue? Where is the interchange? I think of pioneers like AJ Seymour (Guyana) and John Figueroa (Jca), Literary icons of the Caribbean and men of deep faith. There must be more. I'd like to identify them. And my contemporaries. Final note: I've known of the late Thomas Merton, the writer and Trappist Monk. Have had his famous Seven storied Mountain, but not read it. recently found his The New Man (1961) and am entranced. They are his Pascal-like meditations. Years ago Lorna Goddison had encouraged that I read him. Well, I'm on now. So where are our own genre of religious meditations? That is a whole area, faith writings, waiting to be discovered and explored by Caribbean writers.
Finally, finally, while I speak so much of Caribbean, I read and think through widely.
On this 9/11, 09, may the Lord Jesus bless the venture. Come Holy Spirit, Father. "Rest our hopes fully on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."