Saturday, December 9, 2023
Friday, December 8, 2023
Thursday, December 7, 2023
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
By Ira Sadoff
Why not a meadow?
Why not a little clearing and a stream
to wade in? Why not take our pants off,
a little respite from our partners
who couldn’t see us, who’d never see us
no matter what we did? What we did was wrong,
the way we did it. It was miraculous,
it took hold long after
we trudged back to our spouses.
So many years harboring a secret.
Thank you for telling me
about growing up in Queens, daddy’s
milk truck skittering about Northern Boulevard
looking for your favorite ice cream.
And the darkness: how shades were drawn,
how your mother would never recover
from your father. How many of us
have been stymied by those early dramas
until we married them? So many years,
so many hungry years after.
Thank you for the apricots in the mail,
thank you more for appearing at my door
with so little time left: no going back
to field our regrets. Old
as we are, you are here and now,
why not a meadow and a clearing?
About this Poem
“This poem was inspired by the pleasure of a long, deep friendship. Unmediated intimacy, with its concomitant trust and pleasure in another person, is a rare and treasured gift—even more so if it survives our histories and passionate mistakes. The poem aspires to give texture to that journey, to those feelings.”—Ira Sadoff
About the Poet
Ira Sadoff was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 7, 1945, of Russian-Jewish ancestry. He earned a BA in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University in 1966 and an MFA from the University of Oregon in 1968.
In 1975, Sadoff published his first collection of poetry, Settling Down (Houghton Mifflin). Since then, he has published several poetry collections, most recently Country, Living (2020), True Faith (2012), and Barter (2003), which delves into his personal past, specifically concerning love and bereavement, as well as the historical and global past, referencing Beethoven, Vietnam, and the fall of Communism. Other recent collections include Grazing (1998), which included poems that were awarded the American Poetry Review’s Leonard Shestack Prize, the Pushcart Poetry Prize, and the George Bogin Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of America; Emotional Traffic(1989); A Northern Calendar (1981), which charts the arrival and passage of the seasons; and Palm Reading in Winter (1978).
About Sadoff’s work, the poet Gerald Stern has said, “Nowhere else in American poetry do I come across a passion, a cunning, and a joy greater than his. And a deadly accuracy. I see him as one of the supreme poets of his generation.” On awarding Sadoff the Bogin Memorial Prize, the poet Alan Shapiro said,
Beyond the energetic syntax and the astonishing range of idiom and tone, what I so admire in these poems is the just yet always unpredictable weaving together of individual and collective life, the insightful, almost seamless integration of personal experience in all its unredemptive [sic] anguish with the heterogeneous realities of American culture.
Sadoff is also the author of three works of prose, most recently History Matters: Contemporary Poetry on the Margins of American Culture (2009), which, through the work of poets like Czesław Miłosz and Frank O’Hara, argues that poets live and write within history; An Ira Sadoff Reader: Selected Poetry and Prose (1992), a collection of stories, poems, and essays about contemporary poetry; and Uncoupling (1982), a novel.
Sadoff is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 1973, he was a fellow at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and in 1974, he was the Alan Collins Fellow in Poetry and Prose at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. His poetry has been widely anthologized, most recently in The Best American Poetry Series, in 2008.
Sadoff has served as poetry editor of the Antioch Review and was cofounder of the Seneca Review. He has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and in the MFA programs at the University of Virginia and Warren Wilson College. He previously served as the Arthur Jeremiah Roberts Professor of English at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.
Monday, December 4, 2023
Sunday, December 3, 2023
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
— Ephesians 1:2
I saw a meme on Facebook the other day that said, “If Paul saw the church in America today, we would be getting a letter.” The letters, or epistles, that Paul wrote provide an insight into the beliefs and controversies of early Christianity. The Pauline Epistles are the thirteen books of the New Testament attributed to Paul the Apostle, although most scholars believe that Paul only wrote seven of the thirteen epistles attributed to him. Paul wrote to the Christian communities in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, and Thessalonica. Paul also wrote to three of his followers: Timothy in Ephesus, Titus in Crete, and Philemon in Colossae.
I think Paul would be appalled if he saw Christianity in America today. He would probably be appalled at most Christians in the world who have taken so much of his words in the epistles and twisted them to suit their own desires to condemn others and subjugate them to conform to their version of Christianity. He would be dismayed at the hatefulness that emanates from churches in America. He would be disappointed in how fractured Christianity is in America with its seemingly endless variety of Protestant denominations. The early churches that Paul wrote to were not uniformly following the teachings of Christ. They had adapted to local prejudices and practices in opposition to the universality of love and acceptance that Jesus had preached.
Paul wanted uniformity and universality in the church. He sought to encourage Christians to follow the teachings of Jesus, not of men who found various ways to exclude others. Each of the early churches had their own problems. The best example of this is in the two epistles to Corinth, in which he addresses the various problems with the local church, who were following the desires of men instead of those of Jesus. In the name of Christ, they were actually turning their backs on the teachings of Christ for their own gain, much like Christians in America today.
Paul stressed unity and acceptance by Christians. Specifically, in 1 Corinthians 13, often known as the love chapter, Paul describes the characteristics of true love. He says that love is not selfish or self-centered; it is kind, humble, forgiving, courteous, not easily angered, respectful, trusting, positive and hopeful. Love also gives us spiritual resilience and patience so that it willingly "endures all things" to obey and serve God. Paul points out that envy and competition create division, as was the case in the Corinthian church. Love is the great unifier. If Paul were to see the state of Christianity in America today, instead of being a great unifier, he would see an uncharitable, greedy, power-hungry, hateful, and discriminatory group of people who work more to exclude than to include others.
The importance of Paul's writings should be invaluable to Christianity. Paul also took the Gospel message to the Gentile (non-Jewish) world, leaving instructions and inspiration that continue to change lives today. Paul wanted Christianity to be open to all people and to advocate for peace and loving relationships with one another. Some of Paul’s letters are controversial because they are taken out of context and are used by many Christians in America to exclude, not include, people from Christianity. For example when Paul discusses the harmful practice of pederasty (in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy) or pagan orgies (Romans), teachings that are used to condemn LGBTQ+ people when they do not even address LGBTQ+ communities.
So, yes, I do believe if Paul saw the church in America today, evangelical leaders in America would be getting a letter. Too much of Christianity has strayed from the teachings of Christ and is being used as a bludgeon to oppress the less fortunate and those perceived as different instead of uplifting them. It is used to divide people instead of unite them. Since I moved to New England, the heart of Puritan beliefs that are used to oppress others, I’ve always found it interesting that those same denominations (Puritans, Pilgrims, etc.) that were once used to exclude and punish those who were not conforming to the desires of religious leaders are the most welcoming of modern Christian denominations, and those who were more open and accepting (Baptists) have become the most exclusionary and repressive of the denominations in America.