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My Book is Out!

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Paley front coverAnd it is in my hands.  Due to a miscommunication with the publisher, the books had to chase me across the country, but I now have a batch to offer.  You can buy the book on the WordTech website, http://www.wordtechweb.com/order.htm

or you can contact me for a signed copy at a slight discount ($15 instead of $18, and mailing is included, as a special hot-off-the-press offer).

The poems in Made and Remade respond to William Paley’s book, Natural Theology, published in 1802.  Famous for his analogy, “suppose I had found a watch upon the ground . . . the inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker . . . .,” the book presents Paley’s case for creation by design.  As cracks developed in a once coherent world view, we have been left with patches and pieces – the material of poetry – with which to make meaning.  The poems move in many directions, reflecting on how much has changed in 200 years.

Clocks and Time

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The Bridge Outside Paley's Door

The Bridge Outside Paley’s Door

 

 

 

 

In honor of the clock change, here is one of my poems about time and clocks from Made and Remade.

 

The Potentate of Time

As CEO, I cannot allow loss
of minutes dropped by badly
calibrated clocks, seconds

split by timers racing after
ever faster miles, or precious
nanoseconds sliced, spit out

by precision machines: all
the clumsy human attempts
to alter time.

I dispatch work crews to
sweep corners and gutters, sift
bits from curbs and drains,

bring their gathered goods into
my laboratory where skilled
artisans sort, stitch, splice.  My

expanding universe requires
recovery, repair, reuse
of every particle.

The title comes from a line in a hymn “Crown him the Lord of years, the potentate of time.”  It’s a phrase I’ve been fond of for a long time.  In spite of the source I picture this powerful figure as female.  I don’t know if this is because this cleaning up is a kind of woman’s work, or if it is a form of identification between poet and persona.  I intentionally hid my perspective by putting the poem in the first person.  How do you imagine this figure?

Drive carefully on Monday morning.  It’s a high accident time because so many people are thrown off and sleep deprived by the time change

Progress on “Made and Remade”

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The Bridge Outside Paley's Door

The Bridge Outside Paley’s Door

The manuscript for my collection of poems about William Paley and his 200 year old text Natural Theology has gone to the publisher.  Made and Remade should be out in the middle of 2014

To celebrate I offer this poem, which opens the book and describes my enthusiasm for the project.  It also points to all that has changed since Paley wrote, and the world of change we live in now.

            Obsession

for Polly

I’m fixed on this book
like a three-year-old on trucks,
a five-year-old on dinosaurs.  You could
make it my motif, were I young
enough for birthday parties.

Language to sift and savor
artfully, skillfully portrays
a world of fixed order, art
and skilled contrivance.
This balance
wavers as I wonder
at that world’s collapse in
swings, cycles, evolving
life, shifting earth.

Mechanistic views dissolve in
reality’s wash and rub.  I
turn and read again for fragments,
museum quality gems of evidence
for a long dead argument, a fresh fix
of fine writing, proceeding
from a fine mind.

This poem was included in Ascents: Five Southwestern Women Poets.

More About William Paley and his Bridge

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Photo: Sunderland Public Libraries / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo: Sunderland Public Libraries / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

The bridge which William Paley admired at Wearmouth (see my post of July 26) tells us two important things about the time when Paley wrote his book, Natural Theology.  First, the smoke from the smokestack tells us that the industrial age has arrived.  Second, the sails on the ships tell us that engines which can move ships (or trains for that matter) have not yet been invented.  This is a world of commerce, but it is not our world.

William Paley came to live in Wearmouth in 1795.  He was then 52 years old; his most successful years were behind him.  Paley was educated at Cambridge and became a teacher there.  He was ordained in 1766 as an Anglican priest, and was appointed to various positions in the church.  He wrote three important books before Natural Theology, one on moral philosophy and two defending the historical accuracy of the New Testament.

In all his writing Paley emphasized reason, and wrote clear, logical arguments.  That clarity, and his use of language in general, makes Natural Theology a pleasure to read, in spite of the fact that, as the picture demonstrates, his world is very different from our present circumstances.

My collection of poems, Made and Remade, responding to William Paley’s writing, is to be published by WordTech Editions in 2014.

My Forthcoming Book and William Paley’s Bridge

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My collection of poems, Made and Remade, about William Paley’s book, Natural Theology, and the famous watch metaphor, has been accepted for publication by WordTech Editions.  In considering ideas for a cover, I came across a picture of a bridge, built in 1796, across the Wear River in Northern England.

Photo: Sunderland Public Libraries / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo: Sunderland Public Libraries / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

William Paley used this bridge as an image for the structure of the ribs in the human body.  He wrote (in 1802):

The manner of it is this: the end of the rib is divided by a middle ridge into two surfaces . . . . Now this is the very contrivance which is employed in the famous iron bridge at my door at Bishop-Wearmouth . . .

The new bridge delighted William Paley as all mechanical devices and constructions did.  He found in many of them analogies to natural forms.

Though new and wonderful to Paley, the bridge has been replaced, but the image still serves to represent Paley’s fascinations and interests. Until a cover is created for Made and Remade (due out in 2014) this image will serve as an icon for the book.

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