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Ep. 81—Love Like a Conflagration—Jane Greer

By Thomas V. Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 17, 2020 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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From 1981 to 1993, Jane Greer edited Plains Poetry Journal, publishing poets who were reviving the traditional tools of “rhyme, meter, alliteration, assonance, painstaking attention to diction” which had been abandoned in favor of free verse. (These poets included names you will be familiar with from the Catholic scene today, such as Anthony Esolen and Mike Aquilina.) Then, as they say, life happened, and Greer didn’t write a single poem for almost thirty years.

But God’s ways are unpredictable. After three decades of silence, Greer was suddenly struck with a poem while sitting in a New Orleans café. This began a steady stream of output resulting in her new collection, Love Like a Conflagration (which also includes the poems from her only previous book).

Greer’s poetry is musical, fiery and accessible, and has received high praise from many of today’s foremost Catholic poets, including past podcast guests Samuel Hazo, James Matthew Wilson, Anthony Esolen and Mike Aquilina. Hazo writes: “There is not a poem in this remarkable book that will leave you unchanged or be forgotten … Each of these poems is as permanently current as it is consummate. [Greer] puts on the page the passion long absent from American poetry. I’ve never read a book as poetically and beautifully frank as this.”

Contents

[2:57] Style and intended audience of Jane’s work

[3:53] The introductory poem to Love Like a Conflagration, “Micha-el”

[9:00] Structure of the collection

[12:22] “Her Green Desire”

[16:19] Jane’s 30-year hiatus from poetry and providential return

[23:13] “At the Cafe Pontalba”, Jane’s first poem after 30 years of silence

[25:27] Jane’s beginnings as a self-taught poet and early influences

[30:30] “Because God Wanted It”, a poem about unmerited grace

[34:28] The relationship between Jane’s spiritual life and her poetry

[38:12] Dealing with lust in “Song of the Passerby” and “Pastoral”

[45:08] Jane’s work founding and editing Plains Poetry Journal

[50:27] “Bourbon, Neat” and pure play with language

[55:34] The immersive musicality and force of Jane’s poetry

[57:50] “Feminist Androgyne”

[1:03:15] “The Haunting”

[1:05:09] “Twice Betrayed”, a poem in Lazarus’ voice

[1:10:49] “In the Pool at the Bourbon Orleans”

Links

Read “Micha-el” https://isi.org/modern-age/micha-el/

Love Like a Conflagration https://lambingpress.com/product/love-like-a-conflagration/

Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus.

Thomas V. Mirus is a pianist living in New York City. He is the director of audio media for CatholicCulture.org and hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast. See full bio.

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