Laurie L. Patton is author or editor of nine books on religion, mythology, and literature. Her most recent books of poems are Angel’s Task: Poems in Biblical Time (Station Hill) and Fire’s Goal: Poems from the Hindu Year, which was named a Publisher’s Weekly Pick of the Month in 2003. She has also translated the Bhagavad Gita for the Penguin Press Classics Series (2008). She has been the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Fulbright Foundation in Israel, the Fulbright Foundation in India, and the Goldwasser Fund for Religion and the Arts. The former Dean of Arts and Sciences at Duke University, she is currently President of Middlebury College.
Laurie Patton’s “Poems in Biblical Time” give contemplative voice to the reading cycle of the Jewish year. Replete with ancient imagery coming alive in the language of the present, each poem weaves...
Laurie Patton’s “Poems in Biblical Time” give contemplative voice to the reading cycle of the Jewish year. Replete with ancient imagery coming alive in the language of the present, each poem weaves scripture into everyday life while refocusing a single Biblical moment. In her vision here, angels are also messengers “sent to earth with a single piece of work to accomplish.” Although we are of “so many minds” burdened with “so many tasks,” as readers we again receive messengers and the messages they bring. Recognition may come in the angelic voice, and we can meet angels and ourselves at “the tent door in the heat of the day.” Angel’s Task urges continuous awe—or “trembling.”
Angel’s Task opens Torah for us in the most beautiful and resonant way. Each poem is a gem that lets us see more deeply into a biblical text and into ourselves. Quietly, quietly, the poems reach into our “ancient brain,” touching the soul.
—Alicia Ostriker, author of The Book of Seventy,
winner of the 2009 Jewish Book Award for Poetry
What a beautiful notion Patton gives us, the illumination manifest in our own actions: “these are the lights / that hold / our backward, earthly glances / as we turn our eyes / toward heaven.”
—Natasha Trethewey, author of Native Guard, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize
Angel’s Task accomplishes one of poetry’s most important tasks: to speak in a way that awakens a reader to see more clearly the complexities of her own heart and mind and the challenges and predicaments of our contemporary moment. That’s the miracle of Angel’s Task.
—Richard Chess, author of Tekiah, The Chair in the Desert, and The Third Temple