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Saint Thomas and the Forbidden Birds

Saint Thomas and the Forbidden Birds

by James Matthew Wilson

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In James Matthew Wilson’s fourth full-length collection of poems, the writer joins the great saint and theologian Thomas Aquinas to pause before “the thought of earthly sorrows” and to pray for “such a world that had so much to say.”

These poems stand in wonder before the tumult and beauty of created things and the capacity of the soul to rise above it. We move from encounters with the world as revelation, mystery, and promise, to great scenes of sin and fracture such as the bombing of Dresden, the execution of the Roman philosopher Cicero, and scandals in the Church. The volume begins with the prospects for an unborn child soon to enter our stormy world and concludes with a “Farewell” to the place, home, and setting of many of these poems.

Saint Thomas and the Forbidden Birds is a story and pilgrimage through the troubles of our age and beyond them to the reason for our hope, “for all things turn about the love of God.”

More Info

Publisher: Word on Fire
ISBN: 978-1-68578-094-4
Binding: Hardcover
Page count: 128
Dimensions: 6 x 9
Language: English
Release date: Apr 29, 2024
Thickness: .65 (in)
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About the Author

James Matthew Wilson is the Cullen Foundation Chair in English Literature and the founding director of the MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of Saint Thomas. The author of thirteen previous books, his collection of poems The Strangeness of the Good (2020) won the Catholic Media Awards prize for poetry. The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture awarded him the Hiett Prize in 2017; Memoria College gave him the Parnassus Prize in 2022; and the Conference on Christianity and Literature twice gave him the Lionel Basney Award. He serves as poet-in-residence of the Benedict XVI Institute, Editor of Colosseum Books, and Poetry Editor of Modern Age magazine. He lives with his wife and five children in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

What People are Saying

“Of our living poets—to my mind—no greater one exists than James Matthew Wilson.”

— Bradley J. Birzer, Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies at Hillsdale College

“James Matthew Wilson is the most conspicuously talented young poet-critic in American Catholic letters.”

— Dana Gioia, Former California Poet Laureate and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

“It was a delight to be absorbed by every one of these stunning poems. Each one is a work of exquisite depth, observation, complexity, and form. In each one, the poet touches on the biggest questions that face humanity, and gazes deep and long enough at his subject to thrill the reader with his sense of truth and meaning. Reading this book is an emotional and intellectual experience.”

— Sally Read, editor of 100 Great Catholic Poems

“It’s been said that a poet is a man who, in a lifetime, manages to be struck by lightning five or six times. James Matthew Wilson has managed that in this one book. These poems are formally beautiful, humanly rich, intellectually strong, surprising and varied—even wise. All things we need just now in great abundance.”

— Robert Royal, Editor-in-Chief of The Catholic Thing

“‘The darkness’ is coming for us—the darkness of sin, of loss and of forgetfulness, of who we are and who God is. And yet, just when you want to shut the darkness out, James Matthew Wilson invites us to crack open our hearts ‘so truth may not die in the ear / But, suitably disguised, appear.’ Just when you think you know something—a lilac, a garden, the Church, a tow-truck driver—Wilson entices us to look closer. Within every created thing, person, or place dwells a mystery to behold, a surprise for us if we can stay attentive and humble. In Saint Thomas and the Forbidden Birds, Wilson offers us a holy resistance to the darkness coming—to swap our narrow and limited vision for eyes infused with grace.”

— Colleen Hutt, Director of Vision and Outreach, Well-Read Mom​

“James Matthew Wilson is a treasure. Without making demands, his sublime poetry beckons us softly to remember who we are: children of God in a miraculous world. In a harried age of forever ‘becoming,’ Wilson’s words invite us to rest awhile in the healing moments of simply ‘being.’ That is quite a balm for a reeling, uncertain world.”

— Tod Worner, Managing Editor of Evangelization & Culture

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