Monday, October 28, 2013

Luci Shaw*

Luci Shaw is the author of ten previous books of poetry. She was selected to be the 2013 recipient of the Denise Levertov Award; the award is given annually "to an artist or creative writer whose work exemplifies a serious and sustained engagement with the Judeo-Christian tradition." Luci Shaw's poetry so obviously does this. Since 1988 she has been the Writer in Residence at Regent College in Vancouver. She has also been poetry editor for both Crux (a Regent journal) and Radix (of Berkeley, California) for many years.

Robert Cording has said in praise of her new collection, Scape: "As Luci Shaw knows, in the 'many dimensions' of the world we move through, the radiance we receive as a gift is balanced against the cost of mortality and loss. Her poems have a Buddhist acceptance of the conditions of life and a Christian faith in the 'dislodgings,' 'realignments' and 'reintegrations' that are part of the self’s being made perpetually new, even as we age..."

This post is to celebrate the publication of her newest volume of poetry, Scape. I am pleased to say that it is one of the latest books in the Poiema Poetry Series from Cascade Books, of which I am the editor. It was a pleasure to work with Luci on this collection. The following poem is from Scape.


This undistinguished, indistinguishable bird--
this prototype of insignificance—
this very moment’s sparrow at
our porch feeder—makes of her compactness
a virtue. From between the wires
she pecks the black sunflower seeds, neat head bobbing,
purposeful, economical, precise.
Watchful—peck and peek, peck and check.

I have seen scarlet tanagers, purple finches,
grosbeaks, red-footed gulls, even the arrogant
displays of peacocks. In her anonymity,
this diminutive bird is who she is, her suit
brown-grey as damp dust, eyes bright as beads.
This simple-ness, this pure unselfconsciousness,
this understated…this….Oh, the adjectives multiply,
but they are too large for this small one,
who humbles my own mud-brown heart.

She poises her nimble self to flick away, quick
as scissors—at a cat, a squirrel,
my movement at the glass door.

I tilt my head for a better angle, and she’s gone,
to the safety of the cedars.

Sometimes in my timidity I overcompensate
and try to sound large until I know
such falsehood betrays him who humbled himself,
who values a sparrow.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Luci Shaw: first post; second post

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.