I am very much looking forward to the webinar which will formally launch my new poetry collection David’s Crown this Thursday, and I thought I would take the opportunity, a few days before, to introduce the guests who will be joining me at that event.
David Taylor, an associate professor at Fuller and a brilliant contributor to the recent flourishing of Theology and the Arts, as an interdisciplinary venture, is also an old friend. I first met him at Duke University where I was poet in residence at the Duke Initiative in Theology and the Arts, and it was refreshing to find someone with such a combination of theological depth and cultural engagement. He recently amazed the world by curating, and then filming, a conversation about the psalms and what they mean to us now between Bono, of U2, and Eugene Peterson, of The Message. It was mesmerising and it is not surprising that Eugene Peterson wrote the Forward, and Bono the Afterword for David’s own recent book on the psalms Open and Unafraid! David’s book was one of my resources for approaching the psalms in my own poetry and I’m really looking forward to his response to those poems and his wider wisdom about the psalms.
Paula Gooder, the Chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral, is one of the most brilliant and widely read of the younger generation of Biblical Scholars, and I, with many thousands of others, have sat at her feet at the Greenbelt Christianity and Arts festival. We have also spoken together at churches on the theme of Advent. As I began to post the poems that were to become David’s Crown online I was delighted to get a message from Paula encouraging me in my work and offering to help as a kind of scholarly biblical consultant, and I was, of course thrilled when she offered to write the Introduction to my book. It was Paula who helped me see the wood from the trees when it came to seeing the psalter as a whole, even as I worked on the details of the individual poems.
My third guest is the distinguished artist and poet Roger Wagner. I had admired Roger’s paintings for a long time, and it seemed to me he was as it were a contemporary Samuel Palmer, someone who, like Palmer continued the mystical tradition, rooted in Blake, in which the eternal shines through and transfigures the temporal. More recently I have come to know Roger personally as we both have volumes of poetry with Canterbury Press and did some speaking and reading events together. Then, during the course of this lockdown, we collaborated on a joint work ‘The Quarantine Quatrains: a new Rubaiyat‘ for which Roger contributed a set of beautiful ‘miniatures’. It was whilst we were working on that book that I discovered Roger was also publishing a new translation of the psalms together with his beautiful woodcuts and paintings, also published by Canterbury Press, so he was the perfect person to complete my webinar panel for this Thursday and I’m delighted that he has agreed to do so.
The panel will be chaired by Christine Smith, the publishing director at Canterbury Press, and my indefatigable editor
So do join us on Thursday evening at 7pm GMT. The original set of free tickets ‘sold out’ but Canterbury Press have released a whole tranche more so there should be plenty of room. You can register Here. it says ‘buy ticket’ but I hasten to add that the tickets are all free. See you on Thursday!