Monday, February 6, 2017

Richard Jones

Richard Jones is a professor of English at Chicago's DePaul University, where he directs the Creative Writing Program. His poetry books include The Blessing: New & Selected Poems (2000) which won the Society of Midland Authors Award for Poetry, and Apropos of Nothing (2006) both published by Copper Canyon Press. For more than 30 years, he has served as editor for the literary journal Poetry East. His poetry has appeared in anthologies edited by Billy Collins (Poetry 180) and Garrison Keillor (Good Poems).

When asked about his teaching, Richard Jones says,
------“Writing poetry can be a hard and humbling discipline—an art
------that demands great erudition and mastery, and which tests the
------will and the imagination. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke framed
------the challenge of poetry: 'You must change your life.' And so
------poetry assaults complacency, insensitivity, and arrogance.
------Ordinary wisdom tells us to hurry blindly through our day;
------poetry asks that we slow down, listen, and regard all that
------which is marvelous, both the insignificant as well as the divine.”

The following poem first appeared in Image and is from his book The Correct Spelling & The Exact Meaning (Copper Canyon, 2010)

Normal

------Tent Revival, 1957

When things get back to normal
God will put on black robes
and ascend to the mercy seat
to judge the world, the ruined
cities, the devastated hills,
the living and the risen dead.
When things get back to normal,
He’ll open the Book of Life
and read what each man has done,
said, and written, reciting our words
and deeds to the angels to see
if there is any forgiveness
like honey on our tongues.
When things get back to normal
all will stand before God
and be burned like dead branches
or blessed with the incomprehensible fire
of mercy. When things get back to normal,
we will be standing on the threshold of heaven,
a kingdom of singing where at last we will learn
the meaning and purpose
of poetry.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest 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.