Still-Life With God
With a voice grappling with questions about faith and living, Cynthia Atkins' --Still-Life with God excavates and studies the spiritual life in a culture of hardcore consumerism and social media frenzy. These poems are not 'religious' in scope, but in fact, attempt to take God back from religion. Almost prayer-like, they become a rubric for faith with all its threats and losses, through the spiritual, mental, and physical lens at odds with a material world. A bold cautionary tale of the plight of the self to question our destiny and our place in the world. The poet addresses questions of gender, body, mental health/illness, gun violence and mental health. With a wide psychological net and narrative depth, the poet looks at coming of age, adulthood, motherhood, womanhood, selfhood--She is a feminist, a Yankee, a Jew living in Southern Appalachia. Even though there is danger at every turn, there is also a reverence for the 'exquisite human machine.' With images that grab hold, this lyrical sequence of poems addresses the modem hypertext madness of our world. Yes, there is pain and ache at every turn, but these poems are fiercely resolute that facing the demons is what allows us to derail them. This is an impactful and sublime collection, rendering a quest for selfhood, love, contemplation and the divine in a world of human flux and devastation.
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"In Cynthia Atkins' Still-Life With God, the material world becomes a rubric for faith, all its threats and losses a constant test for what we believe in and what we can bear. With packed lyricism and astonishing leaps, Atkins studies how easily God manifests as a new object in our lives, and how quickly the mutable self, starts becoming an image that can be 'shared and liked.' Although the dangers of the world sear through everything, there's also a reverence for the "exquisite human machine of pathos and debris." Just as a door compels us to knock, these poems make you sit up, astonished, a little wild with awe." --Traci Brimhall, author of Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod
"'Every day is triage, ' writes Cynthia Atkins, and indeed, Still-Life with God is full of damage and ache, but also a spirit willing to look for something holy where such things are difficult to find. Here, God is a wishing well, a medicine cabinet, a bullet, and an alibi. These are sharp, bold poems by a poet unafraid to search for the divine, and unafraid to tell you what that search might yield." --Matthew Olzmann, author of Contradictions in the Design
"Cynthia Atkins' Still-Life With God confronts our world with a large open heart. Spiritual, emotional, creative, and technological, Atkins' thoughtful narrative brings us into precise moments where "train whistles/record the distance of our loneliness and a boy is sailing/a paper airplane into the vast/ stratosphere of science and love." How could one not read poems with titles like, "The Internet Is The Loneliest Place On The Planet," "God Is A Treasure Hunt," and "Dear Art"--they draw us in and make us return. Atkins' insightful exploration of the past and present, the self and the self-portrait, help us all find our own place a little easier in the whole and the divine. A beautiful collection to hold." --Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Hourglass Museum and The Daily Poet