Monday 10th December 2018

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

A Book Review . . . Playing With A Net

November 5, 2018 Featured Today No Comments

By JEFF MINICK

When I was teaching homeschool students in AP Literature, I would on occasion ask them to write a sonnet. The first time I did so, I promised to write a sonnet with them. That composition hooked me, and I eventually produced around thirty such poems.
Below is one of them, To My Errant Cousins. Robert Frost, who famously said that free verse is like playing tennis without a net, provided my inspiration.

Most poets now eschew — how that chew fits! —
The waltz and formal sway of metered lines;
Their neoteric noses twitch at rhyme;
Their guts are churned by reading lyric lit.

Sestinas, sonnets, villanelles galore
Beget from modern pens frenetic raves;
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Brings shrieks of pain — O pentametric gore!

By blight, by blast, by slug and cankered mold
The ancient gardens, lily, lilac, rose,
The measured bed, the beaten path, the flow —
Were all laid waste as false (or too damned old).

A plague on modernists whom no one reads —
On all who made this garden rank with weeds.

In this review I wish to dedicate this sonnet to William Baer, Guggenheim fellow, playwright and novelist, translator and academic, founding editor of The Formalist, founder of the St. Robert Southwell Institute, fellow Catholic, and poet.
In Baer’s Formal Salutations: New & Selected Poems (Measure Press Inc., 2019, 184 pages), readers receive a basket full of gifts, verse from Baer’s previous books and poetry appearing for the first time.
Here are sonnets and ballads, blank verse and villanelle, couplets, anapests, and quatrains. Here we find love sonnets, a psalter in verse, several parodies (which if you are acquainted with modern verse are hilarious), and lessons in history, biography, and culture. Here is the delightful and hilarious “New Jersey Noir,” a hard-boiled detective story in verse celebrating the novels of Ross Macdonald.
Most important, here is a poet who with rhythm, rhyme, humor, wit, and insight can entertain and educate an audience. Allow me to introduce you to just a few of these fine poems.
In “Conspiracy,” Baer gives us a sonnet reflecting the paranoia and mistrust alive and well in our time:

You know the truth about the suicide
of the emissary’s wife, the cocaine bust
in Venice and the plagues at Passiontide.
But whom can you tell? Whom can you really trust?
Desperate, you fly to Washington, D.C.,
to your ex-lover. “Meet me anywhere.”
“Of course,” she says. “Let’s meet at the N.S.C.”
Later, walking from McPherson Square,
you start to tell her on the Mall, but “No,”
she puts a finger to your lips. “Don’t say
a word. Please. I really don’t want to know.”
Instead, she kisses your mouth: you pull away.
You check your watch. It’s two a.m.
There’s not much time. Your love is one of them.

In the chapter titled “Psalter,” containing selections taken from Psalter: A Sequence of Catholic Sonnets (2011), we encounter pieces like “Centurion: Matthew 2:16.”

I’ve slaughtered babies all day long,
near Bethlehem. But why? If the wizards are right
nothing can alter the Fates, and, if they’re wrong,
we’re killing without a reason. So now, at night,
I wash the dry and splattered blood away,
then fall to sleep in a feverish hell,
hearing the wails of the mothers as they pray
for retribution and vengeance, hearing, as well,
my mother’s voice — who nursed me through the sweats
when I was born — whose melodious words now sing,
above the whirl of curses and alien threats:
“Whoever injures a child is a fiendish thing,”
whispering, like Rachel, not so long ago,
“and lower than the lowest of the low.”

Many of the poems in Formal Salutations have to do with chances missed, good intentions gone awry, or actions misinterpreted. In “Cage,” a husband and wife, in attempting to create a perfect marriage, instead build bars around themselves until “The whole house pulsates with her frustrated rage.”
“Bookstore” tells of a woman who looks in the index of a celebrity’s bestselling memoir to see if he remembers their long-ago love for each other. When she finds no mention of her name, she leaves the bookshop and drives away, unaware that the author has given her the pseudonym “Marie” and has written that she “was his ‘only, ever, perfect love’ / whom he was ‘still and always’ thinking of.”
A number of Baer’s sonnets look at romantic love in its various guises, ranging from relationships that have fallen apart to the mystery and beauty of a marriage. In “Swimming Pool,” a man whom we first think a peeping tom watches as a woman “drops her robe to the ground” before entering her swimming pool unclothed. The unobserved man relishes the woman’s beauty, then follows her into the house “where his wife is waiting, still damp with the wet of the pool.”
In “The Swimming Pool Float,” a man whose wife has died remembers her blowing up a yellow swimming pool float:

Tonight, holding the float, when the night is cool,
he moves her chair to exactly the same place,
opens the valve, and sits beside the pool,
then feels her breath rush gently over his face,
alone with loneliness, alone with death,
he inhales her last remaining breath.

Readers may also enjoy Baer’s translations of Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes’ work and his ruminations on the Argentinian writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges.
Once Americans read and knew their poets, from Whittier and Whitman to Frost and Sandburg. Though many today may still read the poets of the past, far fewer people are familiar with our living poets.
This move away from reading contemporary poets likely occurred for two reasons. First, some modern poets are best known as songwriters, musicians like Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan. Perhaps a stronger reason for this neglect stems from the opacity of so much modern poetry. Like many academics who write for technical journals or modernist artists who paint abstracts for the cognoscenti, a good number of poets today apparently have determined to write for an elite few rather than seeking a broader audience.
William Baer is an exception. Clear and lucent, his verse can be understood and appreciated by any reader.
In the letter accompanying the review copy of Formal Salutations, Rob Griffith, a director at Measure Press, writes, “I myself am not a Catholic or a Conservative, but I’m proud to publish the work of one of our most distinguished and versatile poets.”
High praise and highly recommended.
Formal Salutations will be available March 1, 2019. Other titles by Baer may be ordered from your local bookstore or online.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

#Apple CEO Tim Cook took the mask off & said
They use Liberal Values to decide what content to censor

They once fought Big Brother
Now they & the rest of Big Tech
Are the #ThoughtPolice

Interview With Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke . . . The Faithful Are Suffering…But Schism Can Never Be Right - https://t.co/iwDMps3a5a

Load More...

Pro-LGBT priest promotes ‘rainbow’ rosary with prayers for ‘full acceptance’ of gay couples

December 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-LGBT Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin is promoting on social media a rosary with “rainbow” beads for one of the decades which are to be used, the rosary’s creators say, to pray for the “full…Continue Reading

Archbishop Viganò denies claims he defrauded his brother

ROME, December 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò today has denied claims he defrauded his brother, and has sought to clarify an October court ruling ordering him to pay his brother €1.8 million in inheritance. Many believe the ruling is being…Continue Reading

Vatican’s former doctrine chief: ‘LGBT’ has ‘no place’ in Church documents

VATICAN CITY, November 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An influential cardinal says that pro-homosexual terminology such as “LGBT” has no place in the documents of the Roman Catholic Church. In a recent interview with LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, formerly the Prefect of the…Continue Reading

$25 MILLION PAPAL FOUNDATION GRANT TO VATICAN REMAINS UNACCOUNTED FOR

PHILADELPHIA (ChurchMilitant.com) – After Cdl. Donald Wuerl spearheaded a $25 million grant to the Vatican earlier this year through the Papal Foundation, sources confirm the money remains unaccounted for, the Rome hospital designated as beneficiary apparently never having received the grant. Sources also confirm Wuerl…Continue Reading

Cardinal guilty of covering up sex abuse addresses US bishops’ conference

BALTIMORE, November 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A cardinal barred from public ministry since 2013 as a result of his systematic cover-up of sex abuse spoke at the U.S. Bishops’ General Assembly in Baltimore Tuesday, telling the bishops they “need to lead by witness.” In…Continue Reading

US bishops consider asking Pope Francis to release McCarrick documents

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will consider officially asking Pope Francis to release any documents related to alleged serial sexual abuser Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. The motion was made from the…Continue Reading

U.S. Catholic Bishops Meet in the Shadow, Still, of Clergy Sex Abuse

This weekend, the Catholic bishops of the United States gather in Baltimore ahead of their three-day annual general assembly, which opens Monday. By coincidence, it will be 16 years exactly since their session in 2002, when they met to amend…Continue Reading

The Synodal Church

Antonio Spadaro, SJ – Carlos Galli Forty years ago, Jesuit Father Arij Roest Crollius wrote: “What is so new about inculturation?”[1] His reflection was a milestone in the understanding of that word and in welcoming a concept at the heart of…Continue Reading

National network of Catholic church leaders told to preserve all communications

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has asked the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to preserve all electronic and paper documents in case other federal prosecutors need to look into accusations of sexual assault against current…Continue Reading

Cdl. Burke ‘strongly’ endorses new virtue education program for young people

October 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the Church’s most outspoken defenders of life, marriage, and family, has “strongly” endorsed a new virtue education program for children. “Alive to the World” is a continuous, story-based virtues/values program. Much…Continue Reading

Pittsburgh wants to revoke Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of kids event over Christian marriage views

PITTSBURGH, October 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – America’s most successful Christian food chain may be driven out of a children’s community event in Pittsburgh over the owners’ Christian-based view of marriage and homosexuality, if the Pittsburgh City Council has its way.…Continue Reading

Australian bishop touts women’s ordination: ‘transformation of priesthood’ is underway

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, October 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An Australian bishop recently told priests that admitting women to the priesthood in the Church’s current state of affairs would be like pouring new wine into old wine skins, but that a “transformation…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Cdl. Burke: ‘Synodality’ suggests some kind of ‘new church’ where pope’s authority is destroyed

LIMERICK, Ireland, (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke has come out criticizing the concept of “synodality” that was barely discussed during the recently concluded “Youth Synod,” but, nevertheless, found its way into the final document, surprising many of the Synod Fathers. “It’s become like a slogan, meant to suggest some kind of new church which is democratic and in which the authority of the Roman Pontiff is relativized and diminished—if not destroyed,” said Card

Facebook unblocks image of Santa kneeling before Baby Jesus after LifeSite report goes viral

December 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Facebook is no longer censoring an image of Santa Claus kneeling before the Baby Jesus that it had deemed “violent or graphic content” after a report on LifeSiteNews about the matter went viral yesterday. Facebook had obscured the picture, explaining that the “photo was automatically covered so you can decide if you want to se

Pro-LGBT Catholic prof: Many German bishops don’t believe homosexual acts are wrong

December 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic German ethics professor calls Cardinal Müller’s recent remarks on homosexuality “unbearable” and claims that, just as the Church’s teaching on the death penalty has changed, the teaching on homosexuality is also open to change. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has been under constant sharp criticism since his 21 November interview with LifeSiteNews, in whi

Cardinal accuses EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo of attacking Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY, December 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier has come out swinging against EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, accusing him of reporting “negatively” on as well as “attack[ing]” Pope Francis. The former Archbishop of Durban tweeted last night that Arroyo was like a “throwback” to Northern Ireland’s most notorious anti-Catholic “Ian Paisley & his ilk.” “The World Over” hosted by Raymond A

Taxpayer dollars help California Planned Parenthood surpass record high income level

November 30, 2018 (American Life League) – For the first time in the history of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, one of its 56 affiliates documented that its annual income surpassed $100 million. The affiliate is Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, headquartered in San Jose, California. In its latest official document (Federal Form 990) filed with the federal government, PPMM reported that in the fiscal year, July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, it had a…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Will Paris Riots Scuttle Climate Accord?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN In Katowice, Poland, all the signers of the 2015 Paris climate accord have gathered to assess how the world’s nations are meeting their goals to cut carbon emissions. Certainly, the communications strategy in the run-up was impressive. In October came that apocalyptic UN report warning that the world is warming faster…Continue Reading

Amid Veto Threat… Ohio “Heartbeat Abortion” Bill Nears Senate Vote

COLUMBUS (CNA/EWTN News) — The Ohio Senate was expected to pass legislation banning abortion on an unborn baby after he or she has a heartbeat, and there could be enough votes to override Gov. John Kasich’s promised veto, amid questions over whether the proposal could withstand U.S. Supreme Court scrutiny. Republicans control the Senate with…Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit Court Of Appeals . . . EWTN Wins Lawsuit Over HHS Contraception Mandate

IRONDALE, Ala. (EWTN) — Following a legal battle that has lasted nearly seven years, EWTN Global Catholic Network has prevailed in its lawsuit against the U.S. government over what has become known as the “HHS Contraception Mandate.” In an order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit published Thursday, November 29, 2018,…Continue Reading

Major Companies Take Action Against Porn

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Across the country, several major companies are taking action against pornography use. Tumblr, Starbucks, Comcast, and multiple hotel chains have all taken steps to reduce pornography access within their respective industry. These decisions come during a time of increasing awareness over the harms of pornography. “Companies are quickly realizing the harms of…Continue Reading

Marie Stopes International Is No Friend Of Africa

By DEBORAH M. PIROCH (Editor’s Note: Deborah M. Piroch is the PR director for Human Life International. HLI posted this article at their website, www.hli.org, on November 30. It is reprinted here with permission.) + + + FRONT ROYAL, Va. — HLI is delighted that the government of Kenya has banned Marie Stopes International (MSI)…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Authority Of Bishops… Can A Catholic Resist A Wrong Teaching Of His Bishop?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 In the two previous articles we have learned from great Catholic theologians that a layman can resist a wrong decision of a bishop and even of the Bishop of Rome — the Pope. But — and this “but” is very important — wouldn’t such a resistance go against the teaching on papal infallibility?…Continue Reading

The Theological Virtues — Faith

By DON FIER As we transitioned last week from a lengthy treatment of the four cardinal virtues (and a brief overview of sanctifying grace) to the theological virtues, emphasis was given to the fittingness of the term “theological” (as derived from the Greek Theos and logos), for these virtues have God Himself as their Author, motive, and direct object. “Infused…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. For the benefit of those who do not have a computer or library access, could you please give us a list of the Doctors of the Church? I have a book entitled 33 Doctors of the Church, but I think some have been added since that book was published. — B.W., Florida. A. Doctor of the Church is a…Continue Reading

Interview With Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke . . . The Faithful Are Suffering…But Schism Can Never Be Right

Cburke3

By PEGGY MOEN (Editor’s Note: This interview took place in Rome on October 22, 2018, the Feast of St. John Paul II, during the final week of the October 3-28 Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment and before its conclusion. See The Wanderer, November 1, 2018, p. 1 for an article based on this interview.) + +…Continue Reading

God’s Providence Is Perfect

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Second Sunday Of Advent (YR C) Readings: Baruch 5:1-9 Phil. 1:4-6, 8-11 Luke 3:1-6 In the second reading today, St. Paul states his confidence that the One who “began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” This can certainly be applied in a variety of situations, for…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Maria Virgo

By CAROLE BRESLIN When I visited my aunt in St. Louis, Mo., we would visit the basilicas, the museums, and other places of interest. She had many sites near her that were particularly special to her, such as her parish, The Little Flower, in Richmond Heights. In addition, she described a place where she frequently went for eucharistic adoration at…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Raphael Kalinowski

By CAROLE BRESLIN There are many terms we use in our language which are clichés. We hear people say that somebody “kicked the bucket,” meaning that he has died, or “I’ll send you to outer Mongolia,” meaning that they will ship you so far away no one will find you. Fr. Kalinowski not only went to a place just north…Continue Reading