BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Addendum: On Modern Pagan Poetry

b2ap3_thumbnail_fireflies.jpgA few months back, I discussed some of the best books of or about modern Pagan poetry. I knew at the time that I was missing some important titles (a girl can only read so much and still hold down a job, sadly). Then, I found the recent post on The Wild Hunt that Erynn Rowan Laurie had won the poetry category at the Bi Writers Association annual gala for her collection Fireflies at Absolute Zero. I was already familiar with some of Laurie's work, thanks to her inclusion in Datura and The Scribing Ibis and a few other publications. The award tipped the balance and I immediately ordered Fireflies.

This is where language fails me and I have to resort to "zomg! awesomesauce! squee!"

Fireflies is divided into five sections: Seeking the Spring, Walking to Charlemont, The Night Sutra, Poetics of Desire, and In Cedar Time. The poems vary from the ecstatic to the beautiful to the wondrous to the horrific as they explore the nature of the Gods, the life of a poet, and the impact and purpose of place. I was struck dumb from the opening lines of the very first poem, "Brigid Dreams the Poet":

I want a poet / with words of honey / and bitter dregs / of red Hungarian wine / dressed in the bones of birds / with wild / ecstatic eyes / and feet that dance the bonfire's rim

A Celtic Reconstructionist, many of Laurie's poem reference Deities and heroes from that tradition (e.g. Danu, Muirgen, Airmed, and so forth), with a handful of others referencing Egyptian and Greek and Sumerian Deities. Throughout the collection, though, particular attention is paid to the sacred duty of the poet: her responsibility to memorialize the dead ("for angie," "Song for the Dead," "Reefs"); celebrate life and the living ("Standing on a Pier, 1964," "the first time"); embrace the beauty and harshness of the world ("Bangor, 1982," "Willamette Valley Winter," "Walking to Charlemont"); and even satirize and take to task the powerful ("Forest Action Barbie"). I was particularly struck by those poems which were equal parts spell, blessing, and invocation, such as "Seun against cold" and "Speak the drum song." 

Laurie's poems are sacred evocations, weaving a world of desire, dreams and transformation. Highly recommended to every Pagan and polytheist, no matter your tradition.  

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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