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  • By David D. Esselstrom
    Jul 28, 2010
    Some poems play with language, some poems toy with ideas, but the poems in Ralph Carlson's aptly titled little book, "Waiting to Say Amen" wrestle with what it means to be alive and to be grappling with faith -- in oneself, in others, in a God who seems, at turns, capricious or absent, and in a tradition that supplies meager sustenance but sustenance all the same. The poems are driven by hungers, a hunger to connect, a hunger to comfort, a hunger to be heard, a hunger to understand, and a heartfelt hunger for it all to be over. We are reminded most, in Carlson's work, that poetry captures yesterday and helps us carry it into tomorrow. "Amen" expresses approval, praise, thankfulness, and acceptance as surely and securely as it tags the end of the prayer.
  • By Florence Weinberger
    Jul 25, 2010
    In Ralph Carlson's heartfelt poetry collection "Waiting to Say Amen," there is a sense of worship that transcends the religious specific and embraces what is human and common to all of us. Both the joy of community and the dark side of religious ardor and rote worship are explored, as in the exhortation to the Holy Mother to "hang our biases/on brass pegs in the vestibules." Sometimes the language soars, as in the lovely line "sunrise brazing those walls of Jerusalem stone." Sometimes we get the sly humor of "Creche," the poignant humor of "When I Am Gone." The poems also stretch to include compassionate meditations on aging, the sadness of a mother in a nursing home, the heart-breaking minutiae accompanying the dying and the death, a devastating journey through a cancer diagnosis, and what runs like a river throughout the poems, found most movingly in the title poem, the struggle between devotion and doubt.
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Product Details

R. S. Carlson at Bamboo Igloo
July 31, 2010
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.37 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
Product ID
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