On Poetic Faith
The above quote is from the first chapter of David Mutschlecner's soul-shaking Poetic Faith (No. 19 in The Lune series). As the title suggests, Poetic Faith is a testament—in awe-stirring, ever-blooming philosophical particulars—to the loving mystery of our communicative existence on this planet. The poet Elizabeth Robinson has authored a wonderful introduction to the work (read the complete text here), and you will find excerpts from each of the book's twenty-two sections below. For my part, the following is a brief intro-retrospective that I hope might shine a small and personal light on Mutschlecner's unique gift and, as a consequence, on the energy that underlies spiritual testimony, [what] is ultimately work of timeless compassion and living love.
David first shared Poetic Faith with me almost exactly one year ago; it was then called "A Journal of Theopoetics," and it is that, concretely. For a few months I took it with me everywhere I went. This was necessary for a number of largely ineffable reasons. For one (an attempt), the text throbs with sincerity, which begets what Joseph Campbell might call a serendipitous adventure—a trip for which one is intrinsically prepared, "a manifestation of [one's] character"—with David as guide. In other words, reading matters of poetic faith is like walking with a friend or loved one. The nuanced companionship of the author—specifically, David, universally, the poet—is something Elizabeth Robinson represents eloquently in her introduction:
“The word ‘genius' comes, etymologically, from the Latin for ‘to beget' and was originally a word that meant ‘tutelary spirit attendant on a person.' In Poetic Faith, David Mutschlecner becomes our genius, a tutelary spirit that guides us into the plenitude of poetry."
With a poet by one's side, poetry is a plenitude, the abundance of life itself. Or should I say: With a human by one's side, humanity is a plenitude, something that exudes meaning, aliveness. In those initial months of taking Poetic Faith with me everywhere, each time I retrieved the document from its manilla habit I would read two or three sentences and sit there, wherever I was, feeling the depth and purity of each thought, all thoughts. Again—as in her own poetry—Robinson says it best:
“Suddenly, the reader finds herself in the midst of a universe that peels back its skin to reveal its living core."
It feels the way friendship feels, like life is special (because it is relative); it works the way our bodies work in speech: the tongue taps, the lips part, the throat hums: we froth and unfurl. In any event, I do not mean to advertise Poetic Faith; I'm searching for the right words by which to breathe in celebration of a singular effort, an affirmation of life. Poetic Faith truly belongs in the company of Annie Dillard's Holy the Firm, Thomas Merton's No Man is an Island, St. John of the Cross's Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ, Clarice Lispecter's Agua Viva, Thomas Keating's Open Mind, Open Heart... It is prayerful, which is to say it is refulgent with humility, the sense of pure service that stems from contemplation.
In so resolutely celebrating language, Mutschlecner has authored an open door for poetry, welcoming us into the ecstatic heart of the poetic mode. As you read the following excerpts, please do not hesitate to get in touch with questions and comments.
from Poetic Faith
I should mention that the book can be purchased in our virtual bookshop. We extend our profound gratitude Elizabeth Robinson, not only for her introduction but for her ongoing, inspiring work in poetry and community. Art director Indigo Deany's beautiful portrait of David graces the book's cover. We'll have more in the manner of communal dreams, thought-experiments, and lunar poetics to share in the coming winter weeks.
Yours in the ancient arms of the elements,