Visual art in Beverly Hills; a fairy tale recommended by C.S. Lewis; poetry by Carolyn Forché and Aaron Belz; the counter-cultural power of sleep; and more!
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Uncontainable Poems
Getting to Gardisky Lake by Paul Willis

As a poetry professor at Westmont College and former poet laureate of Santa Barbara, California, Paul Willis lives in one of the most gorgeous cities in the country. The poems in his latest book, Getting to Gardisky Lake, tease out the tension between delivering beauty as a vocation and living in a landscape that daily announces beauty’s unwillingness to be contained. He calls attention to a profoundly overlooked irony—that the poetry teacher, tasked with feeding poetry in easily digestible meals to young minds, is perhaps more aware than anyone that this task is futile. For a poet, teaching poetry is like lassoing the wind. So, the poems dodge back and forth between the classroom and the ragged mountains flanking the Santa Barbara campus, the teacher leading his students to water, then heading for high desert springs to drink a little himself. These springs are in the High Sierras, where “the Jeffrey pines / whistle as hard as a boy crossing a graveyard” and in the valleys of memory, where he discovers a forgotten classmate named Salvatore, who “disappeared into an unpainted house with walls / made of rain and blackberry vines.” The effect of these turns, from classroom to highway to forest to childhood, each poem both aromatic and concrete, is that of a winding journey through the backcountry, following a guide who keeps telling you to not to trust him. In “Introduction to Poetry” he asks, “What can I possibly put on the test?” The book itself is his answer. “For your exam, sleep in the rain forest / seven years, and when you awake, / trace the Amazon to its roots / in the fluted faces of the Andes.” Willis has awoken from this seven-year slumber, and has returned to town to tell his dreams. 
—Reviewed by Paul Anderson

Purchase your copy here.
The Passion Paintings of Jim Morphesis
Art Exhibition in Beverly Hills, California

Painter Jim Morphesis creates works suffused with passion. Not passion in the superficial sense of “enthusiasm,” but in something closer to the dramatic, scriptural meaning of the word. When you encounter his work you have to brace for some pain, for the suffering and sin and violence and awareness of mortality that characterize our human experience. Morphesis says he paints “flesh and bone,” which makes sense, because it is in the human body that suffering leaves its marks. Skulls, heart, torsos, the crucified body of Christ: all of these appear in his paintings. The very application of paint itself is fleshly—thick, built up as if over a long period of patient endurance. As in the Gospel, Morphesis knows that passion doesn’t mean mere passivity: true human passion, as Christ modeled it for us, involves an active leaning in to what the world brings us. Whether he is drawing on biblical narratives or classical myths, Morphesis works within the great tradition of Western art, interweaving his meanings so that form and content become one.

Now through February 14, The Garboushian Gallery in Beverly Hills, California, is currently exhibiting Jim Morphesis's Selected Works: 1974-2016. Spanning more than four decades, this exhibition highlights significant artwork representing various phases and styles from Morphesis' long career. Find more details and read about Morphesis's evolving work over the decades here.

Staff Picks

What the Image staff are reading, watching, and listening to.
I never know how many people are aware of the nineteenth-century Scottish writer George MacDonald these days. Like many of my generation, I only found out about him through the efforts of C.S. Lewis, who acknowledged MacDonald as one of his masters. It’s impossible to summarize this Scotsman’s many gifts and achievements but he wrote novels, fantasies, fairy tales, and spiritual texts that fuse German Romanticism with a genuine Christian mysticism. His entire vision is encapsulated in his greatest fairy tale, The Golden Key, which has just been brought out by Eerdmans in a handsome single-volume edition with illustrations by Ruth Sanderson. The story or Mossy and Tangle and their adventures has always haunted my heart and imagination. Sanderson’s illustrations balance sentiment, darkness, and mystery in just about the perfect proportions. When you are immersed in this story you’ll feel the intense longing/joy/pain that Lewis could only describe by using the German word Sehnsucht. Read The Golden Key to a child and then let it continue to speak to the child in you.

—Gregory Wolfe, Editor
One recent Saturday afternoon, I sat down with Aaron Belz's poetry collection Glitter Bomb and read it cover to cover. The poems are clever and full of wordplay—Belz is the best comic poet I know, and his wit has bite. At turns playful, irreverent, and absurd, the poems wield language like a sharp edge, cutting away to reveal the bitter hollow underneath daily inanities. Then I turned the final page, and I read "Accumulata." I was stunned. "So you string to together a number of moments / and you call it life? You say my life?" Suddenly all the biting edges to the preceding poems seemed like the sharp prism edges of glass, like something precious had shattered and the narrator was left to attend to the fragments. "And see, can't you see / that this is your ordinary?" And in a trick of the glittering light, I still can't decide if the final line (read the poem here) softens the sharp edges or makes them even sharper: these moments, the poet says, "none of them, will damn you."

—Aubrey Allison, Marketing Associate

Around the Web 

Listen & read Carolyn Forché's poem, "Mourning," in which she looks out upon the Aegean Sea where many refugees have drowned.

This poem by Jeff Gundy is a playful take on being "religious but not spiritual."

The Los Angeles Review of Books declares: "RELIGIOUS ART—not only *not* dead, but currently... thriving?" People always seem surprised. ;) Read their article here.

Read James K.A. Smith on the counter-cultural power of laying down your fears and getting some sleep.

"Whitman links the essence of poetry, which is unity-within-diversity, to the essence of democracy." —Karen Swallow Prior in The Atlantic. (Karen will lead our summer seminar for ecumenical readers at the #GlenWorkshop—don't miss it!)
Our friend Steven D. Greydanus noticed a trend of religious rootlessness and spiritual seeking in last year's movies. Read more at Crux.

Message Board

Post here to reach thousands of readers interested in the intersection of art and faith. We welcome messages about job listings, local events, conferences, prizes, calls for papers, and more. Submit your messages by sending an e-mail here.

Writing Conference for High School Students
The Northern Pen Young Writer’s conference is for dedicated mature high school juniors and seniors who desire to grow their writing through travel, nature and instruction. Intensive workshops in fiction and creative nonfiction, taught by award-winning writers Matthew Dickerson and Leslie Leyland Fields, in fiction and creative nonfiction, will feature interactive teaching on craft, reading like a writer, and manuscript critique. Outside of class, the stunning environment of Sutton, Alaska, provides additional opportunity for inspiration and activity. Applications, including fees, writing samples, and letters of recommendation, are due by March 1, 2017. Find more details here.

If you’re reading this, you know what it means to be able to see more in reality than meets the eye. That’s what art and faith make possible—and what’s behind all true efforts for the common good. The good often requires sacrificial acts that aren’t based on rational calculation but on love for what is true, good, and beautiful.

You know how hardworking the Image staff is, and how much programming we put out into the world: a world-class journal, a beloved summer workshop, a postgraduate fellowship and an undergraduate fellowship, an acclaimed blog, a gorgeous website, and the newsletter you are reading right now.

As a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we rely on the financial support of our community. Support Image today by making a donation. Even $5 will help more than you know. Thank you.
Publisher: Gregory Wolfe
Managing Editor: Aubrey Allison
Contributors: Paul Anderson

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