Kathleen Norris has touched readers throughout America with her thoughtful and provocative memoirs of faith: Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, The Cloister Walk, and Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith. She is equally admired for her poetry of engagement with the spiritual world and its landscapes. Journey includes poems from three previous books spanning thirty years, along with a generous selection of new work that continues her radically individual celebration of the sacredness of life.
Norris reminds her readers that poetry can address the soul in unforgettable ways as she gracefully jumbles secular with sacred, human eros with divine, gravitas with gaiety and meditative musing with narrative plot.
She has inherited [Emily] Dickinson's view that the thing that inspires is the thing to be celebrated. The reader can often sense Ms. Norris's sheer pleasure in writing.
Here is a poet who with wit, sharp intelligence, joy, and an all-seeing eye praises life from the ordinary to the sublime.
Kathleen Norris's Journey articulates a genuine pilgrimmage, bearing witness that the river of appearances runs unfathomably deep, that the evening air is inexplicably scented and close, that the lover's hand upon the beloved attends an inestimable mystery. These are the measures of an expansive soul.
Let us rejoice in the way Journey gathers up poems from 1969 to 1999 and shows them in illuminating new kinships—Norris's usual saints and angels, to be sure, but also those unsaintly and unangelic among us who still merit the notice of a poet supremely observant and generous as well as suprememly eloquent. I wish I knew her secret of perfect balance of the real and the surreal, the most telling presentation of mundane-seeming things endowed with depth and dignity. What a poet!
How fitting it is that this well-constructed collection of Norris' witty and graceful poetry arrives just after her memoir about becoming a poet, The Virgin of Bennington. Her poems provide the lyrics to the chorus of her prose, illuminating the mystical aspects of her feelings about her Dakota heritage and her gradual discovery and embrace of a religious life. Norris is supple and inventive, neatly making the leap from such homey images as a closet filled with a tumble of shoes to the magical and the divine, such as an angel waiting for morning. . . . This volume tracks her convoluted journey back to traditional Christianity, but Norris never loses touch with more free-floating spirituality: the timeless and nondenominational gospel of sun, birds, a bee at a flower, a baby at a breast.
A collection of her poetry [which] explores the sacredness of life and the diverse landscapes of the spiritual world in works spanning three decades, including both new poems and selections from three previous anthologies.
...these poems are neither abrstract nor sere. They are rich in apt, concrete detail and prikling with bodily sensations. Everything throbs with the music of living. Espousing a Christianity shorn of its comforts and often stripped to essentials, she pays homage to the wisdom of the body. She does so with humor that is more street -smart then sentimental,...Journey is about striving for enlightenment, not about having attained it- and these poems celebrate both the physicality of the body and the spiritual qualites inherent in a simplified life.
In a harmonious blending if evocative language and sharp-eyed observation, poet Kathleen Norris demonstates her ease in writing to connect with readers. Norris delves deeply by way of poetry into the signifcance of the human condition. Norris with stir your heart, your memory and your smiles. If you love her prose and have not yet discovered her poetry, here is the book with which to start your own personal journey. "To read through Norris's new and selected poetry in Journey is to watch a flower blossom through the lens of a time-lapse machine."
Kathleen Norris’s books of poetry include The Middle of the World, Little Girls in Church, and The Astronomy of Love. In addition to her best-selling memoirs (all listed as New York Times Notable Books), her most recent prose works include Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and ‘Women’s Work,’ The Virgin of Bennington (a memoir) and a children’s book on Sts. Benedict and Scholastica (in collaboration with the artist Tomie de Paola) are forthcoming. Her honors include grants from the Echoing Green Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts. She lives in South Dakota and Honolulu, Hawaii.learn more