Since I began hospital chaplaincy work in September, all of the good poems I've written have been hospital poems. This makes sense, when I stop to think about it; chaplaincy work has been profoundly moving, frightening, enriching, and sustaining, and my best poems have always come out of what shapes and changes me.
A while back I got the notion of collecting my chaplaincy poems into a small chapbook. These poems exist in dialogue with one another, and taken together I think they make something more than the sum of their parts. One thing led to another, and I got to discussing the project with several friends and fellow bloggers (many of whom shared the dream of starting some kind of small press), and, well...
It is my deep, deep pleasure to announce the publication of chaplainbook, a small chapbook of chaplaincy poems, the first offering from laupe house collective press.
chaplainbook, poems by Rachel Barenblat.
"Hospital chaplaincy work highlights the central commonalities of sickness, fear, grief, and loss...but also opens the possibility of a sanctified encounter with the sacred. These poems dance and wrestle with the difficult realities of embodied existence, seeking blessing."
One of the poems was previously published on this blog; the rest are new to the world, though a couple will appear in a future issue of The Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling.
We published the book through Lulu; I ordered a prototype to make sure I was happy with their work, and I am! so now it's available to you, too, should you wish to buy it. You can find it here; soon it will be available via Amazon as well.
This is my third chapbook of poems, and it came together faster than either of the others, maybe because these are poems of a particular nine-month-long experience rather than the top handful of poems from several years' worth of work. These poems arose out of the crucible of Albany Medical Center. I feel profoundly blessed to have spent these months working there, and profoundly changed by the experience of learning to find blessing in such a difficult place. I hope these poems will speak to people engaged in pastoral care work of various kinds -- clergy, chaplains, therapists and nurses and social workers and doctors -- but also to lovers of words, and to anyone who engages with the messy blessings of this embodied existence.
Uncork some virtual champagne with me, if you will. Help me celebrate the birth of these words into the world!