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Barbies at Communion: and other poems Paperback – April 15, 2010
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Marcus Goodyear's poems are portable, easily carried in the mind, tightly compressed and deceptively simple, like a capacious tent folded into a package you can tuck in your backpack. --John Wilson, Editor, 'Books & Culture'
A new zip-lock bag for Christian poetry holding gustiness and bravado. --Diane Glancy, author 'The Reason for Crows'
From Barbies to tea bags and credit cards, from broken pipes to communion wafers and mowing dead grass, Marcus Goodyear moves us through our world. His juxtapositions of the conventionally sacred and profane reveal to us the falsness of our conventions. Where the vision is large, all is sacred. --John Leax, author 'Tabloid News'
Marcus Goodyear's poems reveal a playful mind at work on the stuff of the world. Picking up something ordinary, he tilts it to show its wild friendship with mystery. He reveals Jesus hitching a ride in the back of a truck. He juxtaposes Higgs particles with a carnival. Even his credit card appears miraculous, talking, as it does, to "institutions of numbers." -- Jeanne Murray Walker, author 'New Tracks, Night Falling'
About the Author
Marcus Goodyear is the Senior Editor for TheHighCalling.org, sponsored by Foundations for Laity Renewal, and Christianity Today's FaithInTheWorkplace.com. His poetry has been published in Geez Magazine, 32 Poems, and Stonework Journal.
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Through his poetry, he reveals a mind that has a way with the world. Engaged, compassionate, quietly humorous.
I recommend every last poem in this book, but here's one beautiful in its simplicity...
Shed no tears for these empty buildings
around the grass field like a private
forgotten park. They will not feel lonely
next week when a new group arrives
on the wings of petroleum and expectation.
Sometimes emptiness lets us all rest
a bit and take a breath. Throw sticks
for fat dogs who run until their panting
clicks, and they wobble, drunk on fetch,
behind the boy on his way to the river
alone to dangle his feet in clear water
where no one has come today to swim.
You're coaching your first boys' soccer game, and you err on the side of bending the rules so the kids can have a little fun.
An old resort hotel is abandoned to collapse in on itself. Or you cut your grass too short and here come the weeds. Or a water pipe breaks in the attic, ruining the stored Christmas decorations. A puppy dies when it catches the motorcycle it's chasing. Two friends build a bookshelf. Deer show up in the negihborhood to eat your plants. Piano practice.
This is the stuff of poetry? This ordinary, everyday living stuff?
In "Barbies at communion: and other poems," poet Marcus Goodyear answers with a resounding yes, because something profound is found in this ordinary living.
We put our Jesus in the attic
after Christmas, buried in boxes
between plastic wreaths and cheap lights.
I rarely think about the idle figure
when I fetch luggage for business trips.
Near the boxes, the space is a maze
of pipes wrapped in thin foam, too thin
for January freezes when water reminds us
who is in charge. So here I am,
my breath like a pillar of cloud.
When the pipes crack, the water sprays.
There is no controlling this flood
and the damage it causes, soaking
through our Christmas, baptizing Santas,
Rudolphs, wreaths and every single Jesus.
Like many of Goodyear's poems, "Epiphany" is full of Biblical allusions, and not only the direct reference to Jesus. Consider the flood, the breath like a "pillar of cloud," the reminder of "who is in charge" and the water from the broken pipe as a kind of baptism. On one level, "Epiphany" is a poem about nothing more than a broken pipe. But he massages it into a richly layered meditation on faith and God, using the commonality of Christmas decorations - how we understand faith - and how that understanding drowns in the reality of what faith is really about.
What Goodyear has done in this collection of "poetry in the everyday" is to demonstrate that poetry can be accessible, understandable, and real to people who long ago turned their backs when it came to be dominated by the academy.
This is about the poetry in life, about poetry as life, the life we all know.
Few writers are as profoundly insightful, authentically sensitive or refreshingly honest as Marcus Goodyear is.
I am captivated by his new collection of poems, Barbies at Communion.
From the introduction:
"Poetry is waiting for us just around the corner, in a book on the coffee table, in a phrase from the pulpit, in the way of a dog's tail, in Barbie dolls and quantum physics and vacations and rituals and work and play.
"Wherever we go, poetry is playing hide-and-seek with us. Whenever we sit still enough and quiet enough, we can hear poetry shuffling in its hiding place, trying not to make too much noise."
If you even remotely enjoy poetry, then you will love these poems that peek and poke and play without ever needing to pontificate or preach.
Goodyear's verse repeatedly catches me off-guard as he makes me chuckle, challenges my assumptions and gives me occasion to pause and reflect.
Barbies at Communion belongs squarely at the top of your "Must Read" list.
You neither skim nor toil over Barbies at Communion. Rather, you lean in as a deliberate listener - watching, waiting, sometimes reading a second time - until he compliments you.
If you want to appreciate real life observations, encounter good poetry, and get a dose of affirmation, I'd recommend reading this short book of poems.
And do it now before Goodyear makes it into your kids' high school lit book.