Many of us favor drawing our own constellations, and maybe that's Jeanine Hathaway's point. Her poetry (and the life we find within it) seems to follow that course. She moves within this collection (winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry) as nun, lover and mother, ''each true to her own.'' Her use of language is clear and willing to risk damnation for redemption, ''not knowing whether / we've been struck by lightning or by love.'' Read in succession, these poems build on each other. They form their own community, a body finding God ''in a shirt of poppies''or in the voice of a mad priest consecrating a bakery truckload of bread. The Self as Constellation
is a fine theology -- gritty and incarnate.
An Eighth Day View:
The way we construct our selves -- as the ancients created meaningful shapes from the random sparkles of the stars at night -- is the theme and structural principle of this collection of poems. In writing them, Jeanine Hathaway assumed the constellations of Eldest Child, Ex-Nun, Former Wife, Single Mother, Writer, Teacher, and Pilgrim. Their most notable aspect is their exploration of spirituality, the awe and ambivalence that characterize every significant relationship, whether it be with God, family, friends, invented and historical figures, or oneself.