Books by Margaret Ingraham
Throughout the centuries, writers have retranslated the Psalms, trying to keep alive the beauty of its images and the depth of its message, for each generation. Psalm 119 is the greatest of them all: the longest, most complex, and the one that most rewards close attention. This Holy Alphabet is a cycle of twenty-two original lyric poems which—like Psalm 119—follows the alphabetic pattern of the twenty-two consonants of the Hebrew alphabet.
These meditations are rich with image and abundant with praise. Each of them strikes an intricate balance between traditional form and modern expression. Designed for both personal study and public prayer, they evoke a new sense of awe and wonder in the power of God’s word, fashioned on his alphabet, to bless, instruct, and console. Ingraham writes as a Christian, but her musical reflections capture the heart of a wisdom tradition shared by Christians and Jews alike.
From the first poem to the last, I couldn’t put Proper Words for Birds down. With the artfulness of Keats and in the spirit of Hopkins, Ingraham writes eloquently of correspondences between the natural world and the spiritual realm, the human and the avian, the family connections that span generations. It is a rare pleasure to discover a 21st century poet renewing and reinvigorating the tradition of lyrical poetry in the distinctive voice of Margaret Ingraham.
—Andrea Carter Brown, author of The Disheveled Bed
“I hope you love birds too,” E.D. once wrote from her desk in Amherst. “It is economical. It saves going to heaven.” In the “close realms,” “land-locked places” and “ordinary yards” of Margaret Ingraham’s lovely and–not surprisingly–musical collection, Proper Words for Birds, we find Dickinson’s spiritual economics at work. Wrens and finches sing against the quotidian; hummingbirds, hawks, and herons conspire to remind us that in the heaven that lies all around us, which Dickinson gazed at with unblinking honesty, “some things open,/others close,/and certain things abide.” Ingraham’s poems convey that kind of honesty; they abide.
—Steve Myers, author of Memory’s Dog
Nominated for a 2010 Library of Virginia Literary Award in poetry