With Ordinary Time, his eighth collection, the distinguished poet and biographer Paul Mariani shares a vision of the world in which the sacred and the quotidian mingle, sometimes quietly and sometimes with revelatory force. These poems treat not only the social and historical issues of the time — the poor, the marginalized, the casualties of war, the forgotten — but the importance of family and friends, especially in those moments we all share of illness and desolation. What saves us is not only beauty but the wit and humor to see the reader through.
Reflective, passionate, humorous, and emotionally powerful, Ordinary Time is Paul Mariani at his finest.
Ron Hansen, author of Mariette in Ecstasy
Paul Mariani is a master of narrative and portraiture, a luminous clarity of vision and language. This is a poet of hardscrabble working class history, singing of his vanished East 51st Street, escaping the boys who would set him ablaze, or clubbing his own brother with a whiskey bottle and laughing about it—with his brother—years later. Yet, this a poet who praises the moon shining on his many lives, or identifies with the nest of hornets he battles to the death. These are big-hearted poems, brimming with empathy, humor, generosity of spirit, and generous spirituality. This is no ordinary time; more than ever, we need the extraordinary poetics and principles of Paul Mariani.
Martín Espada, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Saint Paul the apostle exhorts each of us to ‘redeem the time,’ and so we ought, and so we seldom do. With this latest collection, the saintly Paul Mariani has brought great wisdom, great compassion, and his signature voice and profound wit to the ongoing chore of examining, honoring, and, yes, redeeming our difficult season—be it ordinary, festal, or fasting. As Mariani suggests in one particularly lovely poem, ‘Surely, there’s a parable here for us.’ There is. There are many presented here in Ordinary Time.
Scott Cairns, author of Anaphora and Slow Pilgrim
Paul Mariani’s Ordinary Time chronicles the history of a poet’s heart. This collection of poignant autobiographical poems traces the griefs and graces that bless and beleaguer a not-so-ordinary life. From vivid episodes of an impoverished childhood in gritty New York City, through struggles with sin and guilt, sickness and death, through the joys of marriage, children, and grandchildren that redeem those losses, Mariani guides us moment by moment through a passionately lived life. From the book’s opening Fiat! to its final poem of resurrection, Mariani’s source of consolation is his art. Haunted by the ghosts of old poets—Shakespeare, Milton, and Dante—and the echoes of newer ones—Hopkins, Ginsberg, Berryman, Crane—the book also serves as a paean to those makers who have accompanied him on his pilgrimage. Assembled here are a master poet’s words against the silence that ultimately engulfs us all, a song against the long dark ablaze with beauty.
Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, author of Still Pilgrim and Lovers’ Almanac