Accidental Wisdom — Poems by Alla Renée Bozarth
Accidental Wisdom is filled with loving tributes to people whose lives have deeply inspired the poet. The Nobel Prize winning cytogeneticist, Barbara McClintock, is celebrated here in "Nobel Woman," with poems in celebration of Anna Akhmatova, Denise Levertov, Kenneth Rexroth and Galway Kinnell, as well as a poem about the glorious glass works of Dale Chihuly called "Rollicking Art," and self-explanatory titles such as "Lost Ethic," "A Brief Analysis of Evil," "Original Insecurity" (rather than Original Sin) "Gender, Humanity, Morality," and poems describing the consecrations of the first women bishops in the Anglican Communion in the United States (Barbara Harris, great-granddaughter of slaves) and New Zealand (where Maori grandmothers in feathered costumes escorted European descent Penny Jamieson to her consecration as told in "Egg Energy").
The beloved poem, "Dancing the Labyrinth" is here, and the title poem of Alla's first poetry collection, "Gynergy." This book of poetry also contains Alla's inspiring "Thirty-one Commandments or Flavors of Grace," the basis for her book of meditations, Wisdom and Wonderment: 31 Feasts to Nourish Your Soul. The collection abounds with feminist paeans to Alla's own neighbors and friends, as well as the universal prayer for those whose attempt to give their gifts of healing to the world led to their deaths in "Circle of Fire," originally in the collaborative book with Julia Barkley and Terri Hawthorne, Stars in Your Bones: Emerging Signposts on Our Spiritual Journeys. The poem along with Julia’s eponymous painting were the first works by foreign women artists to become part of the permanent collection of the Peace Memorial Garden in Hiroshima. The widely anthologized poems, "Passover Remembered," "Call," "Pearls," "Water Women," and "Before Jesus" are also in this moving collection. Take it into your life and have it always at hand for encouragement, and as a reminder that we live in a world tended by genius and goodness, a powerful counter to the human evil that sometimes overwhelms us. This book is a blessing on many levels.
I have been spending time with you as I read Wisdom and Wonderment and Accidental Wisdom. A few days ago I read a news article about the plight of the Catholic nuns who live in the real world as they minister to people who also live and function in today’s world. Yet they are being censured by Bishops who live in their own little make believe world/ivory tower of their own construct and are berating the nuns for their lack of obedience and acquiesce to their male domination which they present as “God’s will”. That evening I read your poem The Annunciation which in two pages addresses this issue with precision. “And Christ will live again in every woman’s resurrection.” I marvel at your wisdom. Your books are aptly titled. I can’t begin to imagine what you endured as one of the Philadelphia Eleven . . .
I marvel as I read your books that you reveal yourself in such a bare-bones fashion. There are your feelings, your desires, your wishes and your actions, your joys and your disappointments and your struggles – right there on the page, in printed words that can’t be taken back or obliterated or recanted if you have second thoughts about making such revelations about your deepest self. I am most deeply touched when I read about your marriage. Your love for Phil, your struggle to remain true to yourself within the marriage, your courage to move to Oregon, your ability to withstand the wonderings of others about the choices you made. And finally, as the two of you connect in love and joy within each of your own comfort zones – poof – he is gone and grief is the new path to travel. Powerful stuff!
Marlys Collom San Diego, California
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