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American Religious Poems: An Anthology written by Harold Bloom

 

American Religious Poems: An Anthology written by Harold Bloom

Synopsis:

On the American cultural scene, Harold Bloom occupies an almost Mosaic position, so perhaps it is fitting that this famed literary critic preside over this authoritative anthology of homegrown religious poems. This 900-page Library of America collection might also be seen as the logical accompaniment to Bloom's 1992 bestseller, The American Religion. But, however viewed, American Religious Poems: An Anthology is a major literary event and an engrossing read.

Publishers Weekly

To his long eminence as a poetry critic, Yale professor Bloom has more recently added the mantles of expert in comparative religion (Jesus and Yahweh, 2005) and all-around literary sage (Genius, 2003). This expansive anthology takes advantage of all three Bloomian reputations, gathering verse on Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Native American spiritual, Transcendentalist and even agnostic themes, from 17th-century European colonists (one poet is Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island) to up-and-comers in contemporary verse. Pious readers will have no trouble finding high-quality poetry that confirms their beliefs from the monk Thomas Merton, the Anglican T.S. Eliot, the Jewish liturgical poet Esther Schor and the Louisiana-based Christian poet Martha Serpas. Yet from the 19th century to the present, from the decidedly heterodox Emily Dickinson forwards, the anthology often highlights the ways in which American spirituality has challenged all doctrines about who God is and what God does. Herman Melville speculates about the eternal feud between "ape and angel"; John Ashbery's "The Recital" tells us not to care "whether prayers were answered with concrete events," and the Libyan-born Khaled Mattawa questions Islamic custom. More than half of the book is taken up by 20th-century poets, who offer varied takes on what religion has come to mean in America. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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