Reviewed Elsewhere [Vol. 3, #11]

March 26, 2010


FLOURISH Magazine Reviews
Ragan Sutterfield’s New Book

Last week, I was listening to a scientist on public radio describe the mating calls of the amphibians she was studying. She said, only half-jokingly, that these frogs had been around for thousands of years and would still be around long after humans were gone.

This idea that humans are at best a trivial part of the natural world, and at worst “some sort of colossal mistake on the landscape,” is one of two “heresies of human alienation in creation” that Ragan Sutterfield describes in his small book of essays, Farming as a Spiritual Discipline. The other heresy, one of which many Christians have been guilty, is that humans are masters of creation, and that nature is utterly submissive to the needs of humanity.

Sutterfield describes what should be our correct relationship with nature: that of creatures of a loving God who, by extension and Imago Dei, should love creation. Practically speaking, Sutterfield says that farming is a route to reconnecting with the ways of loving creation that we have forgotten.

Read the full review:

Ragan Sutterfield.
Paperback: Doulos Christou Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Press ]

Poems by Robert Hass

Some might consider Robert Hass to be the Dominating Golden General of contemporary American poetry, although any hint or taint of the tyrannous will seem remote from him. Hass is winsome, widely respected in the literary world, and his poems (and the voices speaking in them) are vastly appealing. These should be reasons enough to obtain and take pleasure in The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems. In some volumes sharing this format, the new work is thin, serving mainly to garnish the literary buffet of several previous books. Hass’ existing readers will be pleased to know that the “new” section here is substantive—forty pages of elegies, a ballad, and notebook meditations. Also generous are the inclusions from Hass’ five prior books, including the seminal Praise and his last collection, the critically lauded Time and Materials. One of Hass’ best known poems appears in the former book, “Meditation at Lagunitas,” with its distinctive mix of discursiveness and poststructuralism (“The idea, for example, that each particular erases / the luminous clarity of a general idea”) and love-making and bread and a clown-faced woodpecker and an assertion that, while paradoxical, still outlasted high theory: “There are moments when the body is as numinous / as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.”

Read the full review:

The Apple Trees at Olema:
New and Selected Poems
Robert Hass.
Hardback: Ecco, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]