I grew up in a Blue-collar Catholic town, so I grew up with Saints -- whether they were garden ornaments, portraits on medals, or parts of prayers, it seemed like the Catholic Saints were part of my life even if I, myself, was not a Catholic. St. Peter's B-List, edited by Mary Ann B. Miller, is a wonderful anthology of poetry that explores how Catholic saints are part of our lives.
The collection is divided into three sections. The first section is dedicated to "Family and Friends" and is my favorite part of the book as it details the way saints find themselves in our world. For example, in "Ode to Saint Barbara of the Barbara Shoppe" poet Rebecca Lauren calls the hairdressers saints, saying "Bless us, your patrons/with shears. Baptize s with holy hairspray/before we go inot the world and preach/the gospel with fixed bouffant of faith." In another poem by Kelli Russell Agodon, the narrator found in "Patron Saint of Worry" invents a new saint when she bemoans the fact that no one "had invented/a babyproof lock for the bathroom faucet."
The second section, titled "Faith and Worship" showcases works that describe Saints' influences on more spiritual matters. Some poems describe more formal worship, while others look at religous awakenings in everyday events, such as the narrator in Brett Foster's "Spiritual Exercises in a Cellar Bookstore" who struggles to find some kind of wisdom and peace among dust and books. In another poem, "The Patron Saint of Lost and Found" by Greg Kosmicki, the narrator retells his experience with praying for something that he is struggling to find.
Finally, there is the third section titled "Sickness and Death" which brings the saints into our lives, often when we believe we most need them, in times of personal sickness or times of prayer for those of us around us who are sick. Dean Kostos, for instance, in his poem, "Elegy for a Living Man" offers both hope and prayer for someone who is struggling with Parkinson's disease.
St. Peter's B-List contains over 100 poems by contemporary poets -- some may be familiar to the reader while others may not. For me, I was happy to see some favorites such as poets Erika Meitner, Kate Daniels, Martha Silano, Annette Spaulding-Convey, Sarah J. Sloat, C. Dale Young, Rebecca Lauren, Jim Daniels and Kelli Russell Agodon. Yet, the collection also introduced me to many poets whose work I did not know (and thus, I found myself looking at the contributors' notes to see where I could find more of their work).
Readers looking for contemporary retellings of Catholic Saints' lives will not find them in this collection. (However, the editor does include a helpful and very interesting guide to the Saints at the end of the book) Instead, St. Peter's B-List includes a wonderful array of poets who find both humor and hope in their personal encounters with saints.
For more information about this anthology, visit Ava Maria Press's website.
In many ways, I am more of a reader than a writer. This page will serve as a home for my informal reviews of what I've been reading.