Monday, April 21, 2014

What is Catholic Fiction/Poetry?

What makes a piece of writing "Catholic?" It is an ongoing debate and one which I freely admit I don't have the definitive answer to. I was recently sent a copy of St. Peter's B-list: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints to review. It is a collection of poems inspired by the saints. Compiled by Dr. Mary Ann Buddenberg Miller, a professor of English at Caldwell College, the book adds to that debate.

Her criteria for including poetry in this book is "that the content of these poems contains a basic underlying assumption that is essentially Catholic: the voices in these poems reflect belief in and hope for, often in spite of themselves, eventual union with God. . . Catholic poems, as well as Catholic novels, remind us of our need for Christ, regardless of whether the poems themselves explicitly profess this concept in their poems."

I have no place judging poetry. I always did poorly in literature classes because I don't "get" multi-layered symbolism. I can get one level of symbolism - that's about it. I enjoy a good story/image that I don't have to work too hard to understand. Most of the poems in St. Peter's B-List are beyond my intellectual ability, but I admire the courage and innovation it took to compile this collection. It is a valuable addition to the conversation of what it means to be a Catholic writer.

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