National Poetry Month - Spencer Reece

To celebrate National Poetry Month, every Friday during April I will be recommending a contemporary poet worth checking out. Today, I suggest you give Spencer Reece a try.

Reece has a fascinating biography. For years, he worked as a sales associate at Brooks Brothers; his first collection of poems was called The Clerk's Tale, alluding both to Chaucer and to his own experiences in the world of commerce. Now, he's an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. His new collection of poetry, The Road to Emmaus, has just come from FSG. It's a superb work, channeling James Merrill and Elizabeth Bishop, examining the struggles of a life of vocation in language that is light, supple, and memorable. (I have a review of the book forthcoming in the magazine.)


Here is the beginning of "At Thomas Merton's Grave," which was published in Poetry in 2009. For the complete version, go here.

We can never be with loss too long.
Behind the warped door that sticks,
the wood thrush calls to the monks,
pausing upon the stone crucifix,
singing: “I am marvelous alone!”


Anthony Domestico is an assistant professor of literature at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of Poetry and Theology in the Modernist Period (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017). He writes Commonweal's "Bookmarks" column.

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