Tracy K. Smith explores Christianity’s connection to poetry

first_imgColleen Fischer | The Observer Tracy K. Smith, the Poet Laureate of the U.S., delivers the Christian Culture lecture at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday night.Smith said the use of metaphor is especially prevalent in the New Testament of the Bible and provides Christ and the disciples with a way to transmit not only information, but also awe.“The Gospels offer language-based proof that there is no such thing as seeing eye to eye, no such thing as having the exact same experience as anyone else,” she said. “In their accounts of Christ’s time on earth, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John create together a single story, complete with perspectival shifts, lapses and any contradictions as corroborations. That these different writings of experience work together toward creating a unified and dynamic whole, despite the gaps and variations distinguishing them from one another, strikes me as, well, poetic.”The layered perspectives, imaginations, sensibilities and vocabularies of the Gospels reveal a singular, universal truth, Smith said.“This may be the history of all religions, all the various vocabularies devised to transmit what is fundamentally beyond us,” she said. “And so the most fruitful attempts at bearing witness are necessarily expansive, drawing upon disparate and sometimes desperate resources.”Smith said she prefers to focus on accounts of Christianity that relate to “the experience of wonder rather than demystifying or domesticating its source.”“Like the language of spiritual awakening, poems seek to be living words — vehicles for transmitting a sense of the strange and the powerful from speaker to reader,” she said. “And like the parable, poems offer tools that foster an ongoing and repeatable state of wonder. They impart to the reader a new kind of awareness, a new kind of sensitivity. The language of poetry makes you more attentive of the world beyond you, even as it serves to enlarge your vocabulary for the world within you.”Though poetry and Christianity do not share the same terms, Smith said, the two share a commonality that allows exploration of the world and oneself.“Christianity doesn’t exist without devotion to Christ,” Smith said.  “Poetry’s devotions are many. But, if I back up far enough, I see that the two share a mode. I think the creative state which is beholden to something unseen lives both outside and within the self and is similar to the state of openness, humility, compassion and receptivity at the root of Christ’s message about the kingdom of God, which also lives both outside and within the self.”Reading and writing poetry requires an act of submission, Smith said, through which one becomes a beholden stranger and places personal knowledge aside to make room for new discoveries. Smith said the revelations of poetry and faith come from outside of logic.“As a writer and a spiritual being, I’m striving towards that which puts me in touch even only imaginatively with the largeness around and within,” Smith said.Smith said her work, “Life on Mars,” draws unconsciously, even involuntarily, upon her experiences with faith. Her 2012 Pulitzer Prize-awarded poetry collection started as a method of exploring her anxieties about the future of America through extrapolation. However, after the death of Smith’s father, she said the book became a way to wrestle with her grief and create a satisfying sense of where his spirit resided. Imagining the afterlife through the lens of outer space helped Smith come to terms with death and those in her life who had died.“Space became a really useful backdrop for [imaging my father’s place in the afterlife],” she said. “I grew up in the Church. I grew up with the image of God in the Sistine Chapel, and I didn’t want my father to be circumscribed on something that seemed that graspable. I wanted to find a way of making the God that I entrusted [my father] to as large as math, as large as the universe, and so the poems relentlessly led me in that direction.”Smith’s poem “It & Co.” portrayed a God that Smith said she believed was greater than the one she already knew.“The first draft of this poem was a second person address to the God on the ceiling [of the Sistine Chapel] … I felt almost blasphemous,” she said. “I felt almost worried that maybe I should hedge my bets and change my approach. And so the pronoun changed and became ‘it,’ and ‘it’ allowed me to create a vast, unhuman, unknowable version of God that oddly enough was more consoling.”The unknowable, unattainable version of God Smith portrays through her work reflects her thoughts on what poetry is, she said. Smith said she allows herself to pose questions that can remain unanswered throughout her work and said she encourages others to embrace this notion in their writing.“A poem is not a puzzle,” Smith said. “It’s not written by someone who has figured something out and then hidden it inside of fancy language. A poem is a root towards reckoning with and building from real, urgent material, questions or experiences. Even if it’s a poem about joy, it seems to gather something more from the recollection of it than is possible in the actual moment.”Though Smith believes poetry does not always need to answer its own questions, she said poetry can still be purposeful in enacting change.“I do [see poetry as activism] for a lot of reasons, partly because of overt subject matter which challenges something,” Smith said. “I also think that poetry is a form of resisting the degradation of English and thought and conversation and social interaction and curiosity. That feels like an activist mechanism to say that mindful language, thoughtfully wielded and carefully listened to and discussed can make things better, can make us realer to each other, can make our feelings realer to each other. It feels like a tool of activism.”Tags: Christian Culture Lecture, poet laureate, tracy k. smith Tracy K. Smith, the 22nd Poet Laureate of the U.S., spoke at the annual Saint Mary’s Christian Culture Lecture on Wednesday night. The acclaimed writer shared her beliefs on the connections between poetry and faith, read her work and explained the Christian undertones of her writings. Smith said faith and poetry provide an opportunity for spiritual and personal awakening.“Poetry is one of the languages that puts us in touch with our higher selves,” she said.  “Poetry, like the language of belief, puts us in touch, if we let it, with our eternal selves. Spiritual belief has given us a vocabulary for wonder, for the miraculous and indescribable. In so doing, it has argued compellingly for the necessity of metaphor as a means of making familiar and intimate what we otherwise could not comprehend.”last_img read more

Clinical Pepsi Hikers `school’ Saints at GTT National Indoor Hockey Championships

first_imgTHE Pepsi Hikers edified their younger counterparts, Saints, on the fine points of indoor hockey with a clinical opening win in the feature clash of night two in the GTT National Indoor Hockey Championships, on Tuesday evening, at Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.The long-standing champions, who are favourites for the Division One male title again this year were solid in all facets of their game, although they had not played as a unit in months.On the court, the lack of playing time was not evident as the Hikers executed their passes and runs with precision. Leading the charge was Aroydy Branford, who was involved (through scoring and assisting) in six of his team’s goals in the 7-3 win.He scored twice in the first half, first via a high shot that evaded the outstretched arms of the goalie then a flat shot in front of the box.Although Saints’ players were outclassed, they had their moments of glory and proved that they are a quality side.Baraka Garnett was one of the shining stars and his breakaway on the right side in the 17th minute gave the young side hope, but Branford was the dream killer and his bullet, passed from the right side to Robert France who struck it home before the goalie could react, made it 3-1 at the break.Branford’s second assist came early in the second period, when he found Randy Hope. Two minutes later the Hikers’ aggressive pace and precise passing resulted in Leon Bacchus finding Devin Munroe to make it 5-1.Saints skipper Hilton Chase kept his team alive after he scored twice via quality plays, but Hikers were too good and Branford was their trump card, as he slotted home two more goals to ensure a comfortable opening victory.Defending female champions Woodpecker Hikers also proved their might after rolling to their second consecutive victory when they disposed of the YMCA Old Fort Bloods by a 2-1 margin, despite playing without goalscorer in their opener, Nicole Eastman, for most of the second period after she was red-carded in the 28th minute of play.Seasoned player Maria Munroe scored twice (3rd and 30th minutes) for the winners, while Minsodia Culpepper pulled one back in the 35th minute for Old Fort.As on the opening night, Tuesday evening also had six games.In a second division male Group B clash, the YMCA Old Fort Top Form were able to get past recent outdoor champions, Bounty GCC The Sequel, by a margin of 3-0, while in a Group A second division clash, Saints Sensation registered their second win with a 3-1 victory against Hikers Cadets.Meanwhile, Saints females lost again when they met GBTI GCC Spice in the first women’s clash of the night. That game ended 2-0 after Tiffany Soloman and Sandy Roopnarine found the back of the net.In the Over-35 division, Bounty GCC Vintage were able to edge out YMCA Old Fort Hot Shotz by a 5-4 margin.last_img read more