Many months ago, my friend and publisher Beth Adams, of Phoenicia (which brought out my first two books, Waiting to Unfold and 70 faces: Torah poems), asked whether I had ever written a poem about Mary. She was exploring the idea of a collection of poems about Mary accompanied by her own original linocut prints, and she wanted the poets represented in the volume to come from a variety of faith-traditions: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, secular. She wrote:
"The annunciation story is a complicated foundational story in western culture. Patriarchies have used Mary as a model for ideal female acceptance, faith, and submission to authority, while at the same time millions of people have identified with her courage, suffering, and patience, and accorded her their personal devotion and deep respect.
I suspect that if we look closely, most of us may have been touched by her story in some way. I want to encourage you to look at the annunciation from a modern point of view, as contemporary poets of different cultural backgrounds. Your work can be religious or secular, traditional or decidedly not, written in a feminist light, a current-events light, a personal light. I'm not looking for any particular type of thrust or interpretation, but rather a broad range of responses to this story and this person we know as Mary. I want to encourage you to think deeply and fearlessly, and to write from your hearts."
I did not have any poetry about Mary, but I spent some time learning and researching and praying and then I wrote a poem to contribute. So did fifteen others.
Announcing Annunciation: sixteen contemporary poets consider Mary -- brand-new from Phoenicia Publishing, and available before November 20 at a special pre-publication discount of $17.95. Ten percent of proceeds from the book will be donated to benefit refugee women.
On the publisher's website you can read process notes from the sixteen poets -- among them Ivy Alvarez, Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Chana Bloch, Luisa A. Igloria, Mojha Kahf, Marly Youmans. (What great company to be in!) Also on that page you can read about the process of making the original linocut relief prints which Beth created in response to our poems. (I have a small framed print of Beth's in my synagogue office -- I love her work, and can't wait to see the images in this volume.)
Read about the book, and buy yourself (or someone else!), a copy here: Annunciation.