Kelly Chripczuk seeks alignment and solace
Poet Kelly Chripczuk writes about alignment, the alignment between the inner self and the outer reality we occupy. It’s a story as old as humanity, and as new as this morning. Each of us feels the disconnect between what we know and believe (especially about ourselves) and what and where we are. We might call this the tension between the ideal and the real. Whatever we call it, it is a condition we’re aware of, a condition we live every day.
In The Courage It Takes, the new collection of 21 poems by Chripczuk, the idea of alignment is ever present. It’s most apparent in the disconnect she experiences between what she knows she’s called to do and the opportunities to do it. That disconnect creates a mental, emotional, and spiritual pain, a pain that can be mitigated and eased but never eliminated or cured.
Some solace is available. Chripczuk looks to nature — the birds, the chipmunk, the groundhog. She looks at her Monday morning to-do list, centering herself in the daily. Or she reads a poem. She fills a bird feeder outside her window, and sees the goldfinch return, followed shortly by the squirrel, who chases the goldfinch away. She strokes the cat, always looking for something to eat. And she finds anger, too, “at the edge of the yard, shrouded in darkness.”
Some days, I too
would sell my birthright
for a steaming bowl of stew,
because hunger is here
I would throw myself
from the highest cliff;
I would light myself on fire,
if it were not for the voice
that whispers, “That
is not what I ask of you.”
Chripczuk is a spiritual director, writer, poet, and speaker. She received a degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, and has led retreats, spoken at conferences, and conducted counseling sessions. Her first collection of poems, Between Heaven and Earth, was published in 2017. She lives with her family on a small farm in central Pennsylvania.
The poems of The Courage It Takes tell a story, one that is simultaneously individual and universal. The “courage” of the title is the courage to face each day and live one’s life, knowing that perfect alignment between the ideal and the real is something not to be grasped in our earthly, physical lives.
How to Read a Poem uses images like the mouse, the hive, the switch (from the Billy Collins poem)—to guide readers into new ways of understanding poems. Anthology included.
“I require all our incoming poetry students—in the MFA I direct—to buy and read this book.”
—Jeanetta Calhoun Mish
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