edited by Virgil Suarez and Ryan G. Van Cleave
University of Iowa Press, 2003
Paper: 978-0-87745-855-5 | Cloth: 978-0-87745-875-3
Library of Congress Classification PS595.R4V47 2003
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6080382


At the heart of human existence lie fundamental questions that are pondered by philosophers, theologians, poets and thoughtful people from all walks of life. What is the meaning of life? Who or what is a divine being? How can a benevolent deity justify human suffering? Such questions are especially relevant to our lives in the current climate of American society. In Vespers: American Poems of Religion and Spirituality, editors Virgil Suárez and Ryan G. Van Cleave offer the reading world a timely anthology of powerful and passionate poems that cut to the heart of our contemporary theological and spiritual underpinnings.

Featuring fifty of today's most respected American poets, including Pulitzer Prize winners Stephen Dunn and Carolyn Kizer, Vespers allows us to witness and understand the challenging ideas and philosophies surrounding religion and spirituality. Through these poems, we can come to a better understanding of who, what, and why we are.

From deathbed spirituals to initiation songs, transformative ballads to transcendent sonnets, poets of myriad backgrounds—Native American, African American, Asian American, Latino, Protestant, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish—echo the thoughts, concerns, and fears that linger in our souls. Their poems help us realize that we are not alone, that we're never truly alone, that even in the face of darkness the world is vibrant, beautiful, joyous.

More than a creative exploration of theological concerns—Vespers is a roadmap of where we've been, where we are, and where we are heading in terms of our spiritual and religious existence. It will keep you company, good company, whatever your religious or spiritual background.