Poetry Feature: Six Poems

by Jeff Gundy

We are pleased to publish for the first time a selection of six poems by Jeff Gundy, author of the award-winning Spoken Among the Trees (University of Akron Press 2007) and four other poetry collections. In these poems the worlds of popular culture—suggested by references to Ronald Reagan, Jerry Garcia, Bob Dylan—intersect with poetic forms inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke and Georg Trakl to create a meditative collage. The homage to these Austrian poets is perhaps a nod to the fruits of Gundy’s Fulbright Lectureship at the University of Salzburg in 2008. In the final poem, "Biblipgraphical Lament," Gundy plays with the ways in which Stanley Hauerwas's glosses on John Howard Yoder inspire his own meditations.

Of these poems Gundy says: “I find myself trying to be mindful of so many things at once: the need to reckon somehow the almost unspeakable intersections, griefs and privileges of ordinary American life, to pay attention and homage to the ten thousand things of this world, to honor and to resist. At the same time, the language makes its own demands. As it is read and said, the poem should somehow give pleasure in its sounds, its shapes, its images, even as perhaps it troubles. And all this happens, of course, in the stew-pot of my particular set of history, traditions, commitments and obsessions.”

The poems are both playful and edgy—not entirely at ease in the world. Gundy nudges his readers to attend to the contradictory images they daily imbibe as members of a media culture. In this way his poems are deeply Anabaptist, searching for wholeness—although preferring honesty to false piety—in the midst of a life permeated with the profane.

-- A. H.

Comments for Poetry Feature: Six Poems

  • Gordon Houser

    On July 16, 2010 Gordon Houser wrote:

    I enjoyed Jeff's "Autobiography" and the references to Blonde on Blonde, perhaps my favorite Dylan album. But where was the sad-eyed lady?

    Post a comment
  • Jeff Gundy

    On July 19, 2010 Jeff Gundy wrote:

    Yes, the sad-eyed lady surely should have gone in somewhere, Gordon, and the hard rain is from a different album, as I'm sure you also noticed. I can only hope my poetic license will cover such transgressions.

    I listened to Blonde on Blonde a lot in the old days but never owned a copy. For some reason, I felt a sudden yearning for it during the run-up to the Menno Writer's Conference in 2006, and bought it and Highway 61 Revisited on CD. They got me through . . . along with help and encouragement from many other sources!

    Post a comment

Post a comment

Sorry, comments are closed for this journal article. If you have something to share, feel free to get in touch.