Books of Poetry
Being a poet is the only job where you can't know much, but get to make a big deal out of it.
"Mary's House is a veritable hipster/scholar's Lives of the Saints, taking us from the Psalms through a spelndid, giddy, brillant chorus of saints - women and men - many of these poems (and what abundance is here, in so many lyrical forms and riffs on forms) turning on the poet's own progress...and, with searing intensity and honesty and wit, on our own. If anyone has drunk deeply of the model of St. Francis for our time, it has to be David Craig. He scatters flowers of spiritual wisdom with abandon toward us, which again and again and again bless even as they burn."
-Paul Mariani, author of Deaths and Transfigurations and Salvage Operations
The Hive of the Saints
iUniverse, Inc. (2005)
David Craig is a poet for whom the vocation of poetry is but one element within the greater vocation of being a faithful servant. in all that he writes - here in The Hive of The Saints and elsewhere - we hear the voice of one crying in a perplexing wilderness, bidding us to prepare. These poems attain to both witness and prophecy, offering calm consolation that every darkness will yield to light.
- Scott Cairns, author of Philokalia: New & Select Poems
The Hive of the Saints should establish Franciscan University English Professor David Craig as one of the finest religious poets currently writing. This book, a careful selection from his many previous books, contains meditations on Scriptures, vivid images of family life, and representation of the lives and hearts of saints. The family poems give moving vignettes of a Catholic working-class childhood and of the people who shared it. But the saint poems are unforgettable. Mini-documentaries in verse, accurate and inspiring, they evoke the sounds and sights of the times and places of favorite saints, demonstrating the nature of saintliness to those of us who can never quite understand it. We see the forces of the world working and the gift of grace that confounded them. What makes all these poems so fine is the poet's deep faith combined with his feel for words - his ability to manipulate the accords, the music, and the dissonance of language. He teases the words, gnarled and knotted and resistant, into translucence.
The Therese sequence is especially powerful. He describes St. Therese in her last illness, considering the claim that long life is needed to serve God:
Merits for most of us are piled
Like duty logged, a drowned carcass,
a wooden leg. Which is why
she is all eye, a blink on the bed,
tender as any morning.
- Janet McCann, author of Pascal Goes to the Races
Sonnets from Matthew
Taken singly, each poem is wonderfully crafted and deeply wise. Taken together, they stand as an achievement that is nothing less than monumental. They confirm what I have long suspected, that David Craig is among the finest religious poets writing today.
- William Bedford Clarke, editor of The Selected Letters of Robert Penn Warren
What an impressive collection this is. For the past two days I have been reading with the Gospel of Matthew open beside me, and I feel as if I have been on an intensive retreat.... I truly believe this is a masterpiece.
-Jill Palaez Baumgaertner, author of Finding Cuba
These are really splendid examples of the sonnet form with its difficulty, its logic, its power, its capacity to surprise.... The poet made me see the scriptures in a different way; as Christ did on the way to Emmaus, he opened them up for me.... My thanks for the gift of his spirit and his words.
- Ron Hansen, author of Atticus
Franciscan University Press (2001)
I believe David Craig to be the foremost religious poet of the day whose special gift it is to reveal the presence and care of God in all things - especially the most unlikely things. He gives us poems as rich in humanity as they are of the mystery of God, which is the same. He is doing the work he was called for, and we are blessed by the presence his words generate.
- Howard McCord, author of Collected Poems
This beautiful new volume gathers into one place the work of one of our best poets, drawn from the first twenty years of his remarkable journey. Through David Craig's luminous verse, we enter the realm of mystical realism, a vision of the real world recorded in a meticulous and cherished present, yet ecstatically observed to be participating in the eternal. Whether Craig is musing on a city stoplight glimpsed through a black iron fence or the sacred antics of Francis of Assisi on Mt. Alverno, everything for this poet pulses with God's breath and love. Moreover Craig is a master of both the short and long forms of his craft. This volume contains four of his most poignant narrative sequences, stirring in their historical weep and vibrant in the intimacy: his portraits of Peter Maurin, Francis of Assisi, Therese of Lisieux, and Blessed Anna-Maria Taigi. Selected also are a number of Craig's psalm translations and his remarkable sequence of sonnet meditations on Matthew's gospel. As always, Craig's language is immediate, expressive, rich in imagery, as subtly crafted and luminous as stained glass. We are greatly enriched by this poetry, by its rapture and wry tenderness, and by it's truthful telling of the holiness and passion of the human story, which is always, for this modern mystic God's story in our midst.
-David Impastato, editor of Upholding Mystery
The Roof of Heaven
Franciscan University Press (1998)
Craig writes as if his life depended on it, which it does. One finds here that rarest of gifts: a distinctively Catholic poetry in the long tradition of St. Francis, a poetry steeped in both the sacred as well as what the world calls the profane, the sheer weight and brokenness of it all made for the moment buoyant by measured song and light and Light.
-Paul Mariani, author of Salvage Operations
I have followed David Craig's poetry for some time now, relishing not only its quality but also its originality - how few in our time eschew the triviality and babble of so-called postmodernism, preferring the path of spiritual growth? What a pleasure to chart that progress, aesthetic and spiritual (for Craig the two are rightly inseparable), as we here can do by moving from the jewel-like earlier poetry to a tour de force like ANNA-MARIA TAIGI.
- Sydney Lea, author of Ghost Pain
Only One Face
White Eagle Coffee Store Press (1994)
David Craig is a mystic in the tradition of Hildegarde of Bingen, Rainer Maria Rilke and Thomas Merton. His provinces are those border countries where the spiritual and the material come nearly close enough to touch, places where a seeker traveling after golden clouds of truth and 'a beauty worth dying for' is as likely to find a gas station and 'Some guy in/Uniform who wants to sell you air.'
The poems of this talented writer are meditations on the world which is within us, the world of imperfect beauty which we find ourselves within, and the world of commitment and belief. David Craig shows us again how close are beauty and truth, and reminds us that there are certain life-and-death matters that can be celebrated only in poetry.
- David Citino, Poet Laureate of the Ohio State University
Like Taxes: Marching Through Gaul
Scripta Humanistica (1990)
Like Taxes, by David Craig, is an impressive book. In an age dominated by secular and characterized by the pretentious and trivial, we are fortunate to have a book so rooted in authentic experience, and serious concern. Craig is eager for the fullness of the religious experience, but he does not let himself be deceived by the superficial religious. He is a subtle enough theologian to know that God hides in strange places, and reveals Himself as He wills, not as mortals might imagine. The best way to encounter Him is to get on with your life - driving cab, talking with friends, eating supper - and staying as alert as the hunter is for the deer. These are the hunter's poems.
- Howard McCord, author of Collected Poems
Peter Maurin and Other Poems
Cleveland State University Poetry Center (1985)
David Craig is an unusual poet - first because he writes religious poetry in our secular age and second, and more importantly, because the poetry he writes does not try to convert or shame. But while this poetry belongs to the tradition of celebratory and mystical religious poetry, it does not shun ordinary life or language and it does not avoid contact with sinners or the anti-poetic. Nor does it make faith easy. It simply tries to say: Faith, yes, reality, yes, and hope, somehow.
- Mary Crow, former Poet Laureate of Colorado
The Sandaled Foot
Cleveland State University Poetry Center (1980)
These poems are the story of that profound reconciliation which enables Francis and those sparrows who followed after to lie down with the lion and the snake and expose their feet to everything there is. Like Francis, these poems are disarmingly simple and unassuming, but you may have to remove your shoes, and more, to read them.
- Fr. Murray Bodo
Anthologies Co-Edited by David Craig (with Janet McCann)
These anthologies are like three large tables, brimming with good food. Excellent orthodox fare can be had here, but so can food for stranger palates. God can sort it all out. And may He have mercy on all of us!
Francis and Clare in Poetry: An Anthology
Saint Anthony Messenger Press (August, 2005)
Francis and Clare in Poetry: An Anthology is a comprehensive collection of poems written by and about Saints Francis and Clare. The poetry in this anthology is as timeless and memorable as the masters who wrote them.
(from back cover)
Place of Passage:
Contemporary Catholic Poetry
Story Line Press (2000)
The spiritually satisfying and intellectually challenging poems in this anthology exhibit the range of Roman Catholic poetry being written today, from the striking devotional poetry of Pope John Paul II, to the translucent, soul-awakening poems of Gabriela Mistral. Arranged by use of the liturgical calendar, the feasts and season of the Church are interpreted and reflected upon by well-known poets such as Annie Dillard and Denise Levertov, as well as by talented emerging poets. Wrought with poems of struggle as well as poems of triumph and joy, this anthology addresses the idea of spirituality as explored through poetry.
(from back cover)
Odd Angles of Heaven:
Contemporary Poetry by People of Faith
Harold Shaw Pub (1997)
Poetry begins in the world of the natural-what is around us, in our hearts and imaginations. But the special gift of the poet is to see more than what is there--to go beneath to deeper meanings, to talk about dark nights, epiphanies, and spiritual quests. Odd Angles of Heaven provides a broad spectrum of some of the finest contemporary poets. As they speak with truth, courage, and conviction, you will find handholds for your own spiritual journey.
(from back cover)
Books of Fiction
I'd say that this fiction was written "with my left hand," except for the fact that I'm left-handed. And so it was.
The Cheese Stand Alone was my first go at it. It's a fictional spiritual autobiography, a lyrical attempt to do something of an Augustine--if he were a contemporary cab driver.
Our Lady of the Outfield was a chance to mix two of my passions: our dear Mother and baseball. I mean writers have mixed baseball with everything else, so it seemed like a great idea. The book also addresses the question: Why doesn't Mary appear in Times Square. (Hint: It wouldn't matter.)
A Communion of S(aints) is a satire which takes a look at odder Christian efforts to establish community. I did it POD, pulled it early despite the four copies sold. Too much Swift, not enough O'Connor.
Our Lady of the Outfield
CMJ Marian Publishers (2003)
Our Lady of the Outfield is intelligent, fun and moving, and it is also right. God's invisible world is intricately intertwined with out human world, and while mystics know this best, some lovers of sports, especially Indians' fans, know it keenly too. Not that we can figure it out any better than mystics can, but if God numbers every hair, why shouldn't His Mother cover the outfield - most often as our Lady of Silence or Mater Dolorosa, but at times, wonderfully, as the joy of all who sorrow? David Craig knows that it happens, and he tells us about it with Joy.
- Fr. Robert Pelton, Director of Priests, Madonna House Apostolate
The Cheese Stands Alone
CMJ Marian Publishers (1997)
Taxi-driver James Bailey flees the ruin and emptiness of his life by heading off to Fargo. Although he never gets there, he does find out that the grace he had imagined in far-out places has been tagging along with him all the time. In Bailey, author Craig enacts in a rollicking manner Josef Pieper's idea of man as "Status Viatoris" (Being-on-the-Way) and shows that a ministry can even be found driving a taxi. Craig show beautifully how grace turns up in the strangest places, and, in a manner worthy of Fitzgerald, magically evokes the graced land which is America and her people.
- Dr. Bill Davis, Scholar & Friend
A Communion of S(aints)
How is a Catholic to know if he or she is orthodox enough? Is there a checklist somewhere, a politically correct quiz? The Bishops might be a place to turn, but to what extent can you really trust them? A Communion of S(aints) is, by turns, a gentle, affectionate, scathingly satirical look at Catholic America's attempt to remain faithful within the hallowed walls of academia. Besides delivering a basketful of laughs, it serves up a profoundly humane version of what it means to stomp the firma.
(from back cover)