At the intersection of religion, politics, and Americana, Colin Pope's latest collection inquires what it means to believe while living through unbelievable times. These poems careen and rollick, imagining a world in which conspiracy theory and urban myth figure as acts of God. Here, the notion of "blind faith" is subjected to kaleidoscopic interrogation in a madcap, whirling, unabashedly entertaining pursuit of the limits of dogma. In Pope's vision of belief, wayward children are plucked up by eagles, the moon landing is faked via the liberal use of shaving cream, and a men's room wall is elected president. But beneath their roiling surface, these poems surge on their dauntless quest for some understanding of how we ended up here, now, fighting for our humanity.
“In Colin Pope's virtuosic Prayer Book for the New Heretic, the world-at-large is, by turns, a crucible, a brimming wonderland, and ‘god's tiled laboratory.’ Pope impresses time and again with long-lined, densely packed poems that snap, crackle, and pop with encyclopedic richness, allusiveness, wit, and topicality. In addition, he dazzles the reader with phenomenal imagery and startling juxtapositions: ‘The college of cardinals / later confirmed the lord's aborted plans, as well as the secret deletion / of mermaids, centaurs, dinosaurs...’ Grappling with moral and political tumult, this questing poet crafts a cascade of cogent prayers and paradoxical homilies—with provocative, tantalizing titles like ‘Test Prayer When You Suspect the Devil Is Masquerading As God,’ ‘Test Prayer When You Discover Your Guardian Angel Is Incompetent,’ and ‘Prayer for the Sturdiness of the Desks Under Which Our Children Are Instructed to Hide During Nuclear Holocaust.’ Prayer Book for the New Heretic is the rare new volume of poetry that feels absolutely pertinent, consistently on fire, and truly visionary.” —Cyrus Cassells, 2021 Texas Poet Laureate and author of The World That the Shooter Left Us
“These intelligent, funny, despairing, and observant poems may be written for heretics, but they work just as well for the devout. Devotions of the deeply human kind, they refuse to look away from that gap in the sky where someone or something has been said to preside. Though a Wright brother avows in one of the poems that ‘No bird soars in a calm,’ this book is a bird itself, and it rises on every breath of joy and trouble.” —Lisa Lewis, winner of the National Poetry Series
Colin Pope is the author of WHY I DIDN'T GO TO YOUR FUNERAL (Tolsun Books, 2019). Poems, essays, and criticism have appeared in journals and publications such as The Kenyon Review, Slate, The Gettysburg Review, West Branch, AGNI, Ninth Letter, Third Coast, Pleiades, Willow Springs, Best New Poets, and others. He is on the board of the People's Poetry Festival and the editorial staff of Nimrod International. Originally from Northern New York, he lives in Corpus Christi, Texas, and teaches at Del Mar College.