Introducing “Almost Entirely”

This November, we are adding a new title to our Paraclete Poetry collection! Look for the release of Jennifer Wallace’s book of poetry “Almost Entirely.”

Below is a preview from her blog.

The title for my newest collection of poetry (due out from Paraclete Press on November 14, 2017) comes from a poem (“Testament”) by my first favorite poet, Hayden Carruth.

I fell for Carruth’s poetry 30 years ago while sitting on the floor at a local bookstore, pouring over the shelves, looking for poems that would “give me a feeling.” When I read the long lines of his book, Tell Me Again How the White Heron Rises and Flies Across the Nacreous River at Twilight Toward the Distant Islands (1989), I admired the movement of his mind, his mysterious but down-to-earth images. I didn’t know a lot about poetry and said to myself: “I want to write like he does.” And I literally reproduced his poems in syntax and lineation—my nouns where his were, my verbs where his lived.

I read his “Testament” many years later. At 86, while contemplating his life and reinvigorating the previously stale idea of life as hourglass, he remarks: “I am almost entirely love, now.” That just grabbed me. It was not envy of him for seeing himself as made almost entirely of love. Such an affirmation! An aspiration! No, I was 100% puzzled and seduced by “almost entirely.” How could it be? Entire—as in complete, and almost—as in partial. Those two in endless orbit. My poems, never quite finished, finished by readers I never get to meet. My life, winding down, and filled with people and places I love, but also distant. My relationship with God—ever present and ever elusive.

Here is the opening poem from Almost Entirely:

Carruth, my first loved poet, said
in his “Testament”: Now I am
almost entirely love. He
imagined his ego’s heaviness
sifting through the hourglass’s narrowness
and settling on a gatheringcone of love below.

He didn’t know, then —
that when I lift his book from the shelf,
the love he has become spills
like galaxies in my hands.

Previous article Sr. Sue Mosteller reviews Fr. Ron Rolheiser's forthcoming book, The Fire Within: Desire, Sexuality, Longing, and God