Poem – a way to name and remember

I‘ve been reading a book called An Unexpected Light by a friend, Dave Mahan. It’s about poetry’s ability to recall, challenge and change things—specifically in the Christian concept of ‘witness’. I came across this quote where Dave is summarizing the thoughts of theologian Paul Riceour:

poetic discourse’s advantage…is its capacity to ‘redescribe reality'[1]”.

The Philosophy of Paul Riceour
I like that. This echoes another quote I have heard attributed to poet Robert Frost—”Poetry is a way to remember what we would be impoverished to forget”. Poetry does that for me, and I think it does that for the average human being—helps us communicate differently in order to grow in understanding.

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Micheal and us.

Micheal O'Siadhail Complete poems cover

The cover of Micheal O’Siadhail’s book Complete Poems. The Portrait is by Irish artist, Mick O’Dea.

He had heard of the word “selfie” but had never taken one. In his way, he stated this question, “I suppose it’s a photograph you take of yourself?” Moments later Sarah and I took a “selfie” with Irish poet, Micheal O’Siadhail. His very first.

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Dazzle Gradually opening remarks January 31st, 2014

Kirk on opening night of Dazzle Gradually, January 2014

Kirk on opening night of Dazzle Gradually, January 2014

These were my opening remarks at our Arts Forum, Dazzle Gradually: The allure of Poetic Truth-Bearing, on January 31st through February 1st, 2014. The video at the end is a short summary of what happened.

Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth’s superb surprise;

As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
Tell all the Truth by Emily Dickinson

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Some thoughts as we approach our 2014 Forum – Dazzle Gradually

Pontius Pilate presents the Christ.

Pontius Pilate presents the Christ.

Life seems to be a delicate balance between what we do and do not know—dialogues occur, rebounding between those two territories. Pride is carried like a hidden king, sometimes wielded like a two-edged sword or a self-deprecating whisper.

Like Pontius Pilate I ask, “What is Truth?” If it is universal and impersonal, then Truth is an avalanche, treating everything in it’s path the same. If it is merely personal—subject to the whims of each human on this planet—then Truth is still an avalanche; only it is a series of miniature ones constantly crashing into one another in a chaotic cacophony. If Truth is the former, nothing is personal and mercy is only a word and not a reality. If Truth is the latter everything is personal and justice is merely a word and not a reality. If it remains one or the other in our cultural heart, then pharmaceutical companies will continue to make money from psychotropic drugs as people look for ways to blunt the harshness of Truth’s split.

But True Truth is neither one, nor the other—and medicating it only delays the reckoning.

It seems contradictory for True Truth to be both transcendental and personal, but it is not. The only way for such magnificent values like Goodness, Beauty and Truth to carry their weight at such lofty and base levels is for both to be true.

Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth’s superb surprise; 

As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.

“Tell all the truth” by Emily Dickinson


Kirk & Sarah

1 year…



The passion of a lover’s embrace,

brush of lips,

tingling skin.


The flash of light after a punch

in the nose,

iron in the throat.


A coat draped over shoulders

on a cold day,

a burst of warmth.


The quenched sigh after a thirsty glass

of water,

a moment of peace.


The scald sending a wet line down the cheek,

salt in the mouth,

the ear drum torn at the sound of despair.


The body’s slow receding to room temperature.

“There’s a warm spot here Stacey!”

the “goodbye” until the dead rise again.


E.G. Frank


Happy Birthday, Billy!

I first became aware of Mr. Collins’ work from an NYU student I worked with named Daniel. I brought my love of Billy Collins’ work with me into my marriage, and Sarah and I have enjoyed his turn of a phrase ever since. Today is Billy Collins’ birthday.

Happy Birthday, Billy!

Some passages found…

I have of late been trying to be more consistent with a reflection and writing time in the mornings. I start with a theological book – at the moment Malcolm Guite’s “Faith, Hope and Poetry”. Then maybe some poetry – Wendell Berry’s “Collected Poems” – a friend recently observed that I had Berry’s book in my bag when I met him seven years ago – that might be true. Finally, I turn to the Bible after getting my mind charged up with others work. After my readings, I write for a short time whatever comes to my mind. In the scripture, I am currently reading through Ezekiel. In chapter 33, Ezekiel is charged by God to be a watchman. In that spirit, I thought I might share a few passages I read that challenged and inspired me.

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The immanence and transcendence of food and relationship

This is an essay based on an introductory talk Kirk gave at A Place at the Table: Creativity in Food and Togetherness on January 18th 2013. This has been edited from the audio version (which will be made available as soon as it has been properly prepared for posting).

Postcards and pins on registration table

I remember in the days following 9/11 when I lived in Manhattan there was a desire to seek out some level of personal and communal healing. The arts group I was a part of sought that out in Tribeca—a half a dozen blocks from Ground Zero. We began to meet weekly in a bakery behind Robert De Niro’s “Tribeca Grill” called the “Tribakery”—we named our group “The Tribakery Group” in honor of that place. We met there for many reasons. One, was for communal healing through friendship and conversation. Two, was to stir our creative juices together as artists, and three we wanted to bring our meager “art income” earnings down to one of the neighborhoods hit hard economically after the attack. That being said, the unstated but very evident reason we met at Tribakery was the great baked goods and variety of strong coffees that we would consume every week. We knew the food and drink would be good because they resourced Mr. De Niro’s grill right next door. I was never disappointed…they had great coffee and croissants. These seemingly minor starches and hot liquids sped our healing, enhanced the creative juices, and satisfied the investment of our monies.

This same group influenced a few visiting college students who later started the Friday Arts Project (FAP) at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

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Some poetry…


Staccatoed laughter matching

the rhythm of his racing feet.

Changing his pace to say both

“Come on boy!” and

“You’re not gonna beat me!”


Silence but for the hum

of the sterile hospital.

His unsteady footfalls say both

“I can do this!” and

“Your will, not my will.”


E.G. Frank

The submission of Poetry

The world does not need words. It articulates itself

in sunlight, leaves, and shadows. The stones on the path

are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted.

The fluent leaves speak only the dialect of pure being.

The kiss is still itself though no words were spoken.”

From “Words” in Interrogations at Noon, by Dana Gioia

Whereas admission is about what we know, submission is about what we don’t know.

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