I am delighted to announce that I've a new book of poetry, Trespassing On the Mount of Olives, my second in Cascade Book's Poiema Poetry Series, edited by D. S. Martin. This collection, a sequence in conversation with the Gospels of the New Testament, is a followup to Opening King David, my sequence in conversation with the Psalms.
Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a wide variety of journals, among them Poetry, Paris Review, Image, LETTERS, Michigan Quarterly Review, JAMA, Brilliant Corners, Solum, The Cafe Review, St. Katherine Review, Puerto del Sol, Ekstasis, Connecticut River Review, Spiritus, Vallum, and Presence. Some have won awards: e.g., AWP Intro Journal Award, Sunken Garden Poetry Prize (selected by Dick Allen), International Arts Movement Poetry Prize (selected by Bret Lott). Others have been finalists or nominated for awards. A few have found their way into anthologies: Sunken Garden Poetry, 1992-2011 (Wesleyan University Press), The Turning Aside (Cascade Books), Waking Up to the Earth (Grayson).
I've had several collections of poems published. (Please support independent bookstores via bookshop.org, indiebound.org, or birchbarkbooks.com.) Four with Antrim House: Though War Break Out, Song of the Drunkards, No Vile Thing, and Like Those Who Dream. Three with Wipf & Stock/Cascade: Opening King David (an all-in-one of the four Antrim books), Still Working It Out (my first in the Poiema Poetry Series), and Trespassing on the Mount of Olives. Two are chapbooks: Short List of Wonders (winner, Sunken Garden Poetry Competition) and Self Portrait w/ Disposable Camera (Finishing Line: finalist, Black River Chapbook Contest and White Eagle Coffee Store Chapbook Contest). In 2011, I was hired by Hill-Stead Museum, home to the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, to edit the festival's 20th anniversary anthology, Sunken Garden Poetry, 1992-2011 (Wesleyan University Press).
I've taught in two boarding schools (Pomfret School, The Stony Brook School) and as an adjunct at College of Holy Cross and Eastern Connecticut State University. I've given featured readings in some very cool places: Yale's Literature & Spirituality Series, Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Bryant Park Reading Room Poetry Series, Gordon College's Princemere Writers Series, and Curbstone Foundation's Julia de Burgos Park.
Born in San Diego, California, to a Canadian woman, I am a citizen in the U.S. and Canada. I earned two high school diplomas (good story there), an undergrad degree (Sociology), and two masters degrees (MDiv and MFA). Following my MDiv, I served as an Episcopal priest for 25 years, fifteen as the chaplain of Pomfret School. While there, I completed my MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and inaugurated a signature program in creative writing for the school. Then, after three wonderful years on Long Island at Stony Brook, I moved to Putnam, CT, with my partner Deb and our cat Mr. Bibbs (RIP). Our only child John is married to Mariko; they live in Brooklyn, NY.
The feeder is not for squirrels.
I want the songbirds to believe it.
Until they do and start taking
protective measures, I want to hire
a crow or hawk or coyote
to watch the yard. Until I do
it’s up to me, early mornings,
to sit where I can see the feeder,
the only thing between me and
the poaching vermin, a screen door.
Which is not necessarily
where I want to sit, but I must
until the squirrels get the message
or the songbirds rally as I know
they have it in them, if only
they believed. If only they could.
(first appeared in The Willimantic Chronicle)
Over on Lexington, in the glassy foyer
of Saint Peter's Lutheran, four
Fujimura paintings, the largest
a two-panel sea of blues and greens
with — faintly — a fruited quince emerging
or disappearing, like the entire New York skyline
in the holiday blizzard we stepped back into
early that afternoon, threading our way home
around abandoned taxis. Pushing through the best
of the storm-blown drifts, down each
unplowed block of the graying city,
no more than ten souls in sight — all boots
and mittens, scarves and hats — and finally,
above the intersection we call ours, maybe thirty pigeons
playing mid-air, like children or bundled tongues of flame
not quite ready to complete their ecstatic descent.
If I could, I'd paint it — the appearance
of the likeness of the glory of the Lord — after
late Turner. No borders, no date, no discernible time
of day. Only the relative coordinates:
West 51st Street at 9th Avenue.
Though really it could be almost anywhere.
(first appeared in DoubleTake)
Were you to tell him how,
in late summer's
his yellow cornfields and,
toward the middle,
that lone, misshapen tree
become your very own
ascending and descending
upon some bloated corpse,
likely a wildebeest,
Mr. Amaral, a businessman,
would nod politely.
(first appeared in Poetry)
I am grateful for the kind words of these poets who have read my work:
Jeffrey Harrison: "Davis' poems move with Whitmanian inclusiveness, taking us by surprise not only with their delights but with their clear-eyed look at suffering, death, and those moments when we feel ourselves 'without purchase.' Here is a poet who knows how to entertain us and move us deeply."
Margaret Gibson: "Davis has mastered the art of presenting the ordinary moment with all its stunning strangeness. Reading these poems, we become mindful that we live by mystery, by beauty, and by grace."
Robert Cording: "These are poems that refuse 'to bypass our humanity' as they seek to find some relief for all that 'drains the soul of [its] will to persevere.' I admire particularly Davis' casual humor, his reverent irreverence, his self-effacing grace, and the patient way he allows small things to yield their metaphysical correspondences. His poems live firmly rooted in the here and now without ever ignoring those realities that remain outside our words."
Mary Oliver: "Brad Davis’ poems are modest and intense at the same time. His subject – all of us, and all things, considered as they are, sorrowful and joyful, and as they might be – invites us to remember the old irreplaceable story of our making: its divinity, its possibility."
Dick Allen: "Beautifully felt and thought, with a religious element that pervades but never overwhelms the poetry — it is specific and timeless at once. Compassionate, praiseful, confident, but never sentimental or dogmatic."
Clare Rossini: "These are poems that think and wonder and yes, by God, that pray. They do so with a cosmopolitan tongue and a formal sense acutely measured against the expansive possibilities of the poet’s intellect and spirit. Brad Davis is a storyteller, has a marvelous touch with detail, and can be awfully funny."
David Wojahn: "Davis writes in the tradition of Herbert and Hopkins: which is to say his subject is how matters of spiritual crisis can alchemize — through empathy and a fastidious attention to craft — first into matters of devotion, and ultimately into matters of revelation. He understands, in a deep and abiding fashion, what Eluard meant when he said that there is another world, but it is in this one."
Gray Jacobik: "Brad Davis writes the kind of poem I value most: one that is spoken straight from an open, compassionate heart and shot through with pure intelligence, acerbic wit, and self-displacement. His poems are infused with the transfiguring love he experiences for 'whoever it may be who holds / all this in brilliant fullness.'"
Sydney Lea: "Opening King David, like the Psalter itself, engages everything that matters in our human existence and manifests every mood in response to those matters, from self-anger to anger – period – to very exultation. It is the last of these, the exultation, that fills me when I see so fine an effort in print."
Betsy Sholl: "As he says in one poem, he’s here ‘to A-men love and a nine-piece funk band.’ And indeed he does, taking on the great classical conundrums with a delicious and sometimes bluesy backbeat. It’s a great relief to read poems that address the moral malaise of our times, the seduction of nihilism, with so much clarity and intelligence. Davis does not offer easy answers, but rather lets faith and doubt spar until hope becomes the clear winner.”
And for these reviews of Opening King David:
https://www.booksandculture.com/articles/2013/janfeb/does-lord-reign.html (requires subscription)