Greetings from the Institute
Dear Institute Members,
May is Mary’s month – dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. In his poem “The May Magnificat,” the great Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, “May is Mary’s month, and I / Muse at that and wonder why. . .” It is one of his most joyful poems, evoking the rich beauty of English springtime as he celebrates the “mighty mother” of Our Lord.
Hopkins is especially on my mind with the release of my latest book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Selected and Annotated Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins . I’ve enjoyed Hopkins’ poetry through my whole adult life, having first encountered it as an undergraduate, and I’ve taught his poetry for many years; he is supremely gifted in his ability to convey the depth, texture, and meaning of the Christian life, both in joy and in desolation. It was a great honor to edit this volume, as I provide line-by-line annotations of each poem, along with a substantial introduction, so that readers who are new to Hopkins, or new to poetry in general, can understand, appreciate, and enjoy his writings.
One of the things I particularly enjoyed about working on Kingfishers was the opportunity to carefully study Hopkins’ choice of words. He had a gift for choosing exactly the right words to create vivid images in the reader’s mind, and to build up these images into deeply meaningful poems.
As a writer, I place great importance on choosing the right words to convey precisely what I mean. Language is important, whether you are a poet, a prose writer, a speaker, or anyone trying to communicate – especially if you are trying to share the Good News of the Gospel.
So I’m pleased to give a ‘teaser’ for the Writing Seminar that I’ll be offering this summer (tentatively scheduled for July 10-21). The annual Writing Seminar is connected to the Emmaus Writing Groups, but you don’t have to be a member of a Writing Group to participate. This year’s seminar will be focused on writing poetry – and it is relevant to anyone who wants to improve as a communicator, because the attention to language and word choice that is needed for good poetry also bears much fruit in writing and speaking. More details will follow in due time!
Dr. Holly Ordway
Cardinal Francis George Fellow of Faith and Culture