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Philokalia Paperback – March 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 163 pages
  • Publisher: Zoo Press; 1st edition (March 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0970817738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0970817730
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,661,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Scott Cairns is the author of seven collections of poetry, The Theology of Doubt, The Translation of Babel, Figures for the Ghost, Recovered Body, Philokalia, Compass of Affection: Poems New & Selected, and Idiot Psalms. With W. Scott Olsen, he co-edited The Sacred Place, a collection of prose and verse celebrating the intersections of landscape and ideas of the holy. He wrote the libretti for The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, an oratorio composed by JAC Redford, and A Melancholy Beauty, an oratorio composed by Georgi Andreev. His poetry and essays have been included in Best Spiritual Writing, Best American Spiritual Writing, The Pushcart Prize XXVI, Upholding Mystery (Oxford, 1997), The Best of Prairie Schooner, and Shadow & Light, among other anthologies. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, The New Republic, Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, Spiritus, Tiferet, Western Humanities Review, and many other journals. He has taught American literature, poetry writing, and poetics courses at Westminster College, University of North Texas, Old Dominion University, and at University of Missouri, where he is currently Professor of English. In 1993, he founded the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, and served as its series editor from 1993 through 2006. In 2007, his spiritual memoir, Short Trip to the Edge, was published by HarperSanFrancisco and his translations and adaptations, Love's Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life, was published by Paraclete Press; the paperback edition, Endless Life, was recently released. With Jeff Johnson and Roy Salmond, he recorded, Parable, a CD of recent poems. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006, and was named the Catherine Paine Middlebush Chair in English at the University of Missouri in 2009. He received the Denise Levertov Award in 2014.

Customer Reviews

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
W. B. Yeats once said: "Rhetoric is a quarrel with others; poetry is a quarrel with oneself." What's remarkable about these poems is the shapeliness of their arguments, their rhetorical constructions. In the new poems collected here, one can overhear Cairns' speaker quarreling with himself in the considered measures of accomodation and uneasy transcendence. These poems remind us that great poems are great arguments drawn forward by a literary troika of phanopoeia, logopoeia, and melopoeia--not simply the pyrotechnics of dazzling wordplay, as is often the case these days. Cairns has fallen in love with reality. As God--or the supposed person of God--says in his dialogues with the great mystic, St. Catherine of Siena: "If you have received my love sincerely without self-interest, you will drink your neighbor's love sincerely. It is just like a vessel that you fill at the fountain. If you take it out of the fountain to drink, the vessel is soon empty. But if you hold your vessel in the fountain while you drink, it will not get empty: indeed, it will always be full." An extraordinary charity suffuses and defines the character of this work throughout. Whether the speakers of these poems find their cups empty or full is not so much a question of fate but of the vessel's angle or attitude of repose. These poems possess a charm far beyond their ecclesiastical sway, and we are lucky to have them. If there were only one poet for whom I could be the evangelist, it would be Scott Cairns.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Smith VINE VOICE on August 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
This collection includes selected poems from The Theology of Doubt (1985), The Translation of Babel (1990), Figures for the Ghost (1994) and Recovered Body (1998). The last, Recovered Body, is the only one of these that I have read. If the selection from it is representative, a significant portion of memorable poems has been excluded for this collection. The strongest poems in Recovered Body, "The Recovered Midrashim of Rabbi Sab" in included in part - this group of poems are insightful and unusual takes on scriptural stories.
From The Translation of Babel comes an excellent string of poems "The Translation of Raimundo Luz" which in a series of related poems ("My Infancy", "My Personal History", "My Language", "My Moral Dream", "My Imitation", "Our Lost Angels" ...) manages to explicate liberation theology in the best poetic, "post-modern" sense through the confounding of the life/personality of Raimundo Luz and Christ. From the same book comes a delightful homage to Calvino "Lost Cities: Calvino" and a wonderfully sassy "Lucifer's Epistle to the Fallen" with delightful lines: "Him! Showboat with the Heavy Thumbs! Pretender / at Creation! Maker of Possibilities!" combined with insightful images: "Imagine! The ignorance you're dressed in! / The way you wear it! ..."
In the new poems severals of the "Adventures in New Testament Greek" stand out as serious, playful analysis of key Biblical terms: Metanoia, Haireis, Nous, Mysterion ...
While the collection will appeal especially to those with an interest in religious poetry, this collection is solid poetry - worth consideration simply as excellent poetry.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Uder on July 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
I took a literature class with Scott Cairns, and (I have to be honest) he is absolutely enchanting. I've never heard a man read poetry quite like he can--drawing out meanings without imposing his "self" upon the words. I was so impressed by his teaching style that I began investigating his work, and I was enthralled all over again.
Philokalia is a exploration of the spiritual, but it's also incredibly grounded; Cairns never loses sight of the ~body~ (and yes, sometimes "it hurts to see"). I think that tomorrow's literature classes will be citing Cairns as one of the most profound poets of this time period.
Scott's work has been (and I most sincerely hope) will continue to be an inspiration for me.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Eris de Suzerain on December 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I just listened to this man do a reading in Marfa, Texas (of all places) and had to buy this book. You do not have to be a Christian to appreciate his work, anyone who seeks God in beauty and life is likely to find this deeply amusing and inspiring.

He has a way of making one laugh in one breath, and pause in wonder in the next.

If you have a chance to see him read, I would highly recommend it. If you don't, read his work. It has been a long time since I have purchased "modern" poetry - and this is well worth the expense.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
The early poems are charming enough, but something absolutely uncanny happens as you chart the course from the second book (Translation of Babel) through the new poems section--an unusual (I'd say unique) poetic enterprise that opens up the possibility of the transcendent, but not a disembodied transcendent, rather a sense of the Holy made manifest in matter, matter that is lovingly attended.
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