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Posts tagged "The Elegy Beta"


Another Week Ends: Justin Bieber, the Tyranny of Meritocracy, Accidentally Going Viral, Pandemic Show Tunes, and More Strange Rites

1. Leading off this week, the philosopher Michael Sandel has some hefty critiques of the idea of meritocracy, specifically its disastrous effects on social and individual wellbeing in a global capitalist economy. Within a meritocracy, success becomes the law to live by that ruthlessly judges personal failure, dividing the self-righteous deserving from the unrighteous lazy. […]

“Overtime,” by Mischa Willett

Let it crack. Let its sound go
sour, and if, when it tolls the hour, we
hear an A minor rather than a B flat,
well, that’s that.

It’s breaking, but doesn’t need
replacing any more than liberty
for greening, the tower for leaning.

Cast in Limerick and floated round
the Cape to hang here and peel
for each assassination, graduation,
it grew, over time, ours. When is a bell

broken? A tongue stammers out
the time still, mimes the orbital
click, movement tick into noon
and now, cries flatly—ironic—from

its diaphragmatic round: Be it known
hereby! It is! Amen! This!

Each tock rhapsodic atop the tower clock.


From The Elegy Beta: And Other Poems by Mischa Willett. You can purchase this collection from the Mockingbird storeAmazon, and elsewhere.

“Dream at Bethel,” by Mischa Willett

Quiet now, but for camels’ tongues,
lopping fat and sticky in the young

desert night, big wind in the black backdrop
of sky, crickets and their ancient legs, log-pops

from my small fire. Cool on my feet,
this breeze after two days walking since the trees

of my village waved their shaggy good-byes. My wool socks
stuffed in boots, I relax; put a smooth rock

under my head, start to dream the dreams of my life:
I can fly like hawks, have green-eyed wives

from the east, am a sailor with a swift ship,
fish, kingdoms under me, then this:

a ladder leaning into clouds reaching high as noon,
quick as raindrops, up and down, angels, bright as moon.

Then a whisper comes sliding too, down the ricket of the bars,
promising peace and plenty, descendants like the stars.

The fire is dim as voices when the drop
of my leg wakes me. Blinking, I prop

on an elbow and look around for stairs, an unnatural
hint of spirits, but see only my bearded camels,

some lights on a hill from town, my boots, provisions.
I think better of my strange vision.

At breakfast I splash oil on my pillow rock—
it seems holy still—and get ready to walk, pack

everything, give the camels some straw,
call the place Church, to remember what I saw.


From The Elegy Beta: And Other Poems by Mischa Willett. You can purchase this collection from the Mockingbird store, Amazon, and elsewhere.

“Come Crack the Frozen Branch-Ends / That’ve Had You So Long”: Foreword to The Elegy Beta

Mark S. Burrows Introduces Mischa Willett’s Poetry and Reminds Us What Poems Are for

Now Available: The Elegy Beta: And Other Poems, by Mischa Willett

Never before has Mockingbird published a book of poetry — but with The Elegy Beta, that changes. From critically acclaimed poet Mischa WillettThe Elegy Beta features impressionistic meditations on faith and everyday life. In concert with Rilke’s Duino Elegies, this collection simmers with luminous, transcendent language. It is elegant, sharp, and frequently funny.

The Elegy Beta is available today in hardcover and paperback. You can find it in our online bookstore, on Amazon, and elsewhere.

Meet the author at the book launch in Seattle on March 10, and RSVP to the event here. Willett will also read at MockingbirdNYC in April. You can find out more at mischawillet.com.

Meanwhile, early reviews are in:

“Mischa Willett has an absolutely distinctive voice, angular, refractory, often unsettling in flashes of psychological and spiritual insight that go deep, by-passing  categories. The Elegy Beta begins in sharp, arresting jolts to consciousness and conscience, then moves in the grand title poem to a symphony of symbolic resonance that invites deep pondering and re-reading. A remarkable volume.” – David Lyle Jeffrey, author of In the Beauty of Holiness

“Find a quiet spot where your tongue can delight your ears and read these poems aloud. For some you’ll want to kneel. For others, slap your thigh and guffaw. In some an epiphany will dawn like a sun surprising you at midnight. Dwell in the lilt of Willett’s play. He’s dead serious and death-defying.” – James K. A. Smith, Editor-in-Chief, Image Magazine; author of On the Road with Saint Augustine

“Here is a striking and original collection which responds to both our biblical and poetic heritage with a fresh contemporary voice. The best response to poetry is itself poetry and in Willet’s new sequence The Elegy Beta, Rilke’s great Duino elegies are reimagined in ways that will spur readers on to their own creative response.” – Malcolm Guite, author of After Prayer

“In a world awash in a flood of cheap chatter, and numb from the noise of ALL CAPS weaponizing of words, good poetry is a healing, sensitizing balm. Willett’s The Elegy Beta displays the capacity of poetic language to remind us of the world—its everyday glory and profound peculiarity—that gets lost in the noise. These poems neither weaponize nor worship words; they rather let words do their work, like the sun does its: warming, illuminating, drawing forth life.” – Brett McCracken, senior editor, The Gospel Coalition; author of Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community