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A book of poems for those who feel betrayed by school; a short film for adults and children; a novel that breaks free from false love; poetry that reckons with the moral legacy of the South; and more!
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Sanctuaries and Mourning: A Tribute
The Emanuel Nine Tribute Project

On this day one year ago, a man was welcomed into an evening Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where he then opened fire. One week ago, another sanctuary—a space set aside for a queer community to gather, celebrate, and shed the onus of their difference—became the site of violence and tragedy when a man committed the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

It's hard to know how to respond to such evil. Refusing to forget the humanity of those killed is a place to start. In this spirit, we want to share a tribute. In collaboration with Principle Gallery, Charleston, nine acclaimed portrait artists—Ricky Mujica, Mario Andres Robinson, Lauren Tilden, Paul McCormack, Gregory Mortenson, Catherine Prescott, Terry Strickland, Judy Takács, and Stephanie Deshpande—were commissioned to paint portraits of the nine Emanuel AME Church shooting victims as gifts to their loved ones. Catherine Prescott, who painted the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was featured in Image issue 36 and has written for Image about the state of portraiture. In a fascinating interview with Kate Austin for the CIVA blog, she describes how painting Rev. Pinckney led her to reflect on her own history with race. She also describes the technical process of portraiture in a profound way. For her, the detailed work of getting a likeness that captures not just the shape of a face but a spirit is an act with theological implications. “I looked at lots of pictures of Rev. Pinckney online and watched videos of him speaking. As with most things, it’s knowing the details that helps you become devoted to the subject and encourages the precision required to depict the subject well. John Updike [has a character in The Witches of Eastwick] remark: ‘Precision is where the passion begins, eh?’... And that’s what you have to get to if you’re going to do a good painting. Of course it follows that you come to love the person through the act of painting, of attending to those details. I’m pretty sure this is the case with God, that we are his best paintings. I get a little glimpse of what steadfast love is like when I’m working hard on the details of a painting.” All nine portraits can be viewed online. Images of families and church members with the painters and portraits are a moving reminder of the human cost of last June’s violence.

Our prayers and solidarity are with all those who mourn the loss of loved ones and the loss of sanctuary this week.

The Way Things Are at School
True, False, None of the Above by Marjorie Maddox

How many students have felt betrayed in school when something they’ve studied with passion has been reduced to a true/false or multiple-choice question? How many have struggled to express the irreducible lessons that literature makes possible, only to be confronted with the task of a 500-word essay structured as a five-paragraph theme? And how many teachers have despaired when looking in their bag to find sixty of those exams to grade or when facing a classroom of students who have chosen not to read the assigned story or poem? Marjorie Maddox may be the perfect poet to write about the difficulties and joys of a life in school, having spent the better part of her career working as a professor of English at Lock Haven University. As she proclaims in the opening poem of the collection: “I’m not talking about who you should be / but are. Let’s start with the essence of seed / and see what sprouts from there.” And this is a book about how things “are,” not how we wish they were, written by a poet in middle-life, a woman with the difficult responsibilities of being a mother, a wife, a college professor, and a daughter of aging parents. While this collection claims a wide and diverse path, the poet’s voice and vision, her spiritual yearning, draws together the elements of a life lived with careful attention, of a poetry infused with compassion and humor that readers in and out of school will welcome.
—Reviewed by Todd Davis

Purchase your copy here.

Staff Pick

What the Image staff are reading, watching, and listening to.
Song of the Sea is a beautiful new hand-drawn film from the makers of the equally stunning Secret of Kells. It’s about a brother and sister in contemporary Ireland who enter the world of the fairies and selkies of ancient myth. The constantly surprising visual feast and realistic family relationships make it a pleasure for adults as well as children. A number of remarkably drawn moments depict the Irish melding of Christian and pre-Christian elements. Free on Amazon Prime.

—Mary Kenagy Mitchell, Managing Editor




My favorite novels are ones in which we can see into the experiences of multiple characters, and thus see the ways they misinterpret and change each other in their attempts to love each other—or, in the case of Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot, their struggles with love for each other. This is a novel about breaking free from false images of love. Of particular interest to ImageUpdate readers: one of the characters experiences a radical and thoughtful conversion to Christianity. The three main characters are avid readers, and it's interesting to see the way they're shaped by their reading lives. And as a someone who was a college grad not long ago, I've enjoyed reading about characters who are entering post-college life, too.

—Aubrey Allison, Marketing Associate
 

Around the Web 

A must-read for contemporary Southern writers: Kate Daniels on the ways Robert Penn Warren's poetry helped her reckon with her moral legacy as a white Southerner.

"The Pulse nightclub was full of young men who were boys not too long ago annoying their mothers with petty broken contraptions at the most inconvenient times. And then they suddenly grew up."
Tania Runyan on mothering in the wake of tragedy.

"If the innocent continue to suffer, they do so because we have yet to take responsibility for their pain, and we have yet to take responsibility for their relief."
—Scott Cairns in his essay "The End of Suffering"

"May we rise up in our love as a fire leaps and kindles.
May we hold our hands
to the fire and warm them."
—Margaret Gibson, from her poem "Blessing"

Read Dana Gioia's poem "Becoming a Redwood" in the Paris Review: "paralyzed by the mystery of how a stone / can bear to be a stone"

"The strength of all women...lies in their sacrifice as they let their loved ones go." Excellent review of Suzanne M. Wolfe's novel The Confessions of X.

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.

Call for Contributions on Approaches to Faith
The International Journal for Philosophy of Religion is seeking papers, poems, short stories, biographies, etc. that fit the theme Approaches to Faith. The aim is to edit a collection that deepens our understanding of faith, thought of as a psychological state, attitude, orientation, or stance, whether secular or religious. Submissions should exhibit clarity, creative engagement, and concern for contemporary life. Send contributions to Dan Howard-Snyder, Daniel McKaughan, and Rebekah Rice at Daniel.Howard-Snyder@wwu.edu, daniel.mckaughan@bc.edu, and ricer@spu.edu, with “IJPR faith” in the subject line. Prepare contributions for blind review. Deadline: August 31, 2016. For more information, click here.

The Orison Anthology Awards
Orison Books, a non-profit literary press focused on the life of the spirit from a broad and inclusive range of perspectives, is currently accepting submissions for The Orison Anthology Awards in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. The winner in each genre will receive $500 and publication in The Orison Anthology. Judges: Ravi Howard (fiction), Catherine Reid (nonfiction), and Philip Metres (poetry). Entry fee: $15. Deadline: August 1, 2016. Find complete details here.


A political season is upon us. 

Whatever your party affiliation or philosophical persuasion, right about now you are probably frustrated and anxious about the political process. Yes, democracy is messy, but the amount of anger, fear-mongering, and divisiveness out there is leading many to cynicism and despair.

Millions of votes have been cast, but have they moved us toward a better place?

From our vantage point, we're seeing a pretty different picture than you’d get from this year’s election coverage. Read more here.
Publisher: Gregory Wolfe
Managing Editor: Aubrey Allison

Contributors: Todd Davis

Advertise in ImageUpdate! Find details here.

Copyright © 2016 Image Journal, All rights reserved.


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