If you're looking for an exclusively Judeo-Christian take on poetry, spirituality and craft, look elsewhere.
Collected over the course of years, A God in the House is a series of interviews conducted with nineteen American poets and assembled as a string of candid, if somewhat peculiar, monologues. The questions and answers have been removed to, in the words of the editors, 'allow the continuity of less formal responses in a single voice for each chapter.' The result is a candid and exploratory account of mystery's role in the creative process. The straightforwardness of the text can be refreshing, though the biographical nature of the editing produces a strangely homogenized voice by and large. One wonders if the contributors knew what they were getting themselves into, though each was given the chance to review the edited text before publication.
Regardless of these speculations, the work represents wonderfully diverse perspectives on prayer, faith, poetry, community, activism, music, mysticism, politics and protest. Muslims and Jews, Christians (Catholics, Old World Mennonites, and liberal Protestants), Buddhists and Pagans speak of God, and the practice of the presence of God, in wildly different terms. 'Zen is not about belief,' says Jane Hirshfield, 'but about what happens when belief is unfastened.' Both Christian Wiman and Gerald Stern speak of the possibility of God, about the inability to separate praise from condemnation. Stern comments, 'Commendation is at least attention.' Wiman adds that abundance and destitution are but 'two facets of the one face of God,' and that the poem is an instrument 'to experience one always in the context of another.'
The defining and shared sine qua non of these poets is wonder. 'This world is simply great and mysterious,' says Grace Paley. 'I don't have to find a god or not find a god.' Fanny Howe adds (as if they were in conversation with one another): 'Only a few can go free to the far God--probably the last, the weakest, and the most good-natured.'
Other contributors include (but are not limited to) Alicia Ostrik, G.C. Waldrep, Carolyn Forche, Joy Harjo, Li-Young Lee, Kazim Ali, and Gregory Orr.
An Eighth Day View:
Literary Nonfiction. Poetry. Editors Ilya Kaminsky and Katherine Towler have gathered conversations with nineteen of America's leading poets, reflecting upon their diverse experiences with spirituality and the craft of writing. Bringing together poets who are Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, Native American, Wiccan, agnostic, and otherwise, this book offers frank and thoughtful consideration of themes too often polarized and politicized in our society. Participants include Li-Young Lee, Jane Hirshfield, Carolyn Forche, Gerald Stern, Christian Wiman, Joy Harjo, and Gregory Orr, and others, all wrestling with difficult questions of human existence and the sources of art.