In early 1942 the French Algerian writer Max-Pol Fouchet devoted a special double number of his review, Fontaine, to an unusual theme: De la poésie comme exercice spirituel.1 His readers would certainly have recalled Ignatius Loyola's Exercitia spiritualia (1522–1524), a detailed set of meditations designed to lead Catholics on retreat to discern the will of God in their lives and thereby to attend to him first and foremost.2 Holding a copy of the review in their hands, potential readers in Algiers or Paris might well have wondered how poetry could in any way resemble the meditations and prayers that Ignatius had composed and the effects that they could have on them. In some respects, Ignatius bypasses the tradition of contemplatio and consolidates meditatio, in part by absorbing the medieval tradition of consideratio: His pages are profoundly and densely committed to images of the life of Christ...
Poetry as Spiritual Exercise: On A. R. Ammons
Kevin Hart holds the Edwin B. Kyle Chair of Christian Theology in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He also holds professorships in the Department of English and the Department of French. His recent works include L'image vulnérable (Paris: Gallimard, 2021), which consists of his Gilson Lectures delivered in Paris in 2020; Lands of Likeness: For a Poetics of Contemplation, his Gifford Lectures at the University of Glasgow for 2019–23 (Chicago: Chicago UP, 2023); and Maurice Blanchot on Poetry and Narrative: Ethics of the Image (London: Bloomsbury, 2023). His edition, The Bible and Literature, vol. 5, will appear with Bloomsbury in 2024. His poetry is collected in Wild Track: New and Selected Poems (2015) and Barefoot (2018), both published by Notre Dame University Press. He is currently writing Phenomenology of the Christ and completing two new collections of poetry.
Kevin Hart; Poetry as Spiritual Exercise: On A. R. Ammons. CR: The New Centennial Review 1 July 2022; 22 (2): 7–40. doi: https://doi.org/10.14321/crnewcentrevi.22.2.0007
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