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  • Skylar Hamilton Burris

Lenten Reading: The Poetry of Philip Rosenbaum

If you're looking for some extra Lenten reading, I can recommend Philip Rosenbaum's Holy Week Sonnets (Posterity Press, © 2004, ISBN 1-889274-21-6). Philip sent me this collection of his poems some years ago, and it remains one of my favorite Lenten reflections.

The elegant hardback collection of sonnets is a rare treat. Well-written formal poetry, complete with meter and rhyme, is like a swift breeze of invigorating air in a world that all too often scorns the riches of tradition. And these sonnets are indeed well-written: the alliteration, rhythm, and imagery work together to move the reader to reflection as he or she embarks on a Holy Week journey from the costly anointing of Christ, through the crucifixion, to the resurrection.

I could name many favorites in this volume, but I will content myself with a few. "A Single Stone" inspires empathy for the often overlooked Martha; "Good Friday, 1987" shows how intellectual confusion can be happily consumed by childlike faith, and "The Signature" reminds us of the beautifully brutal way Christ sealed His contract with us.

These are beautiful poems to read aloud, and this is the kind of collection that can bear repeated reading each year during Lent. The poems are complemented by scripture references, which are printed in their entirety in the second half of the book so that you may use the volume as a kind of devotional.

Philip Rosenbaum is the author of How to Enjoy the Boring Parts of the Bible and The Promise, sound guidelines for living a richer life. The poet has also shared with me his collection The Wedding Party (© 2002). While I was more deeply moved by Holy Week Sonnets, The Wedding Party is a good read in its own right. The collection gives the reader insight into Old Testament characters (such as Adam, Noah’s wife, Abraham, Sarah, and Rebekah) through a series of “songs” written in Spenserian stanza. The wedding party in question is attending the marriage of Christ to His Bride the Church, and a variety of biblical characters are invited to answer the question, “Why do I choose this woman as my bride?” Philip Rosenbaum “chants[s] in meter, musical and clear.” The Wedding Party is a welcome addition among contemporary poetry collections, one that walks the ancient paths so to speak.

To find Holy Week Sonnets on Amazon, click here.

#HolyWeek #Lent #chapbooks #bookreviews

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