Jean Gallagher

Winner of the 2005 FIELD Poetry Prize

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(ISBN 0-932440-27-4)

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"Jean Gallagher majestically conducts a history of approaches to the sacred in Christian art, scripture, mysticism, theology. She rewrites the Bible as she re-sees the 'gravities, necessities, haphazard plots' behind the frozen sacramental moments of religious art. From Duccio to Giacometti, Thomas Aquinas to Catherine of Siena, Annunciation to Assumption, Stubborn revels in Gallagher's own 'stubborn love / for things as they seem.' In a sequence here based on a Duccio altarpiece a bewildered apostle experiences the resurrected Christ 'like a language / I don't know ... and there's never been an alphabet for it, ever.' Now--because of Jean Gallagher's splendid experiment--there is."
--Bruce Beasley

"In this intriguing and highly readable collection of poems what the poet called 'the stubborn mass of all big ideas' meets her 'stubborn love / for things as they seem.' Gallagher looks past the aesthetic dimensions of Medieval and Renaissance paintings--the subjects of the poems here--to the Biblical events they depict, and past those as well to their human meanings. She shows us how it feels for the human and the holy to interact."
--Mark Jarman

Particular Annunciation

(Fra Angelico, Annunciation, ca. 1449)

The thought arrives like Gabriel with its
art deco wings, sleek as glazed porcelain,
striped and full of eyes as a hallucination,
not seeming suited for flight: I could do it.

In the particular annunciation
she and the angel bow politely, hands
crossed flat over flat chests: two businessmen
in gracious, wary negotiation.
Neither speaks. She is blank as a drum,
poker-faced. But the open porch
where they incline toward each other hums
like a force field. Framed in her separate arch,
the speckled, burnished light around her head hovers,
contained but expandable, and says, think it over.



(Giovanni di Paolo, ca. 1440)

Inside, the house opened like a doll’s,
the done deal is just starting to settle

over the leaning-toward and -away
of arched walls, lily, her averted, attentive face.

Outside, the future is blowing
its gold hurricane. They are crossing

out of their companioned solitude among the animals,
the intelligent, upstanding rabbits and red, edible

flowers, their feet curving carpet needles
in the blue-green domestic grasses

they are turning to leave. Crossing into next,
its gravities, necessities, haphazard plots.

--Jean Gallagher

Copyright c 2006 by Jean Gallagher. May not be reproduced without permission.

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