Iced at the Ward, Burned at the Stake
And Other Poems
by Paul Swenson
with foreword by William Mulder
Paperback / 96 pages / 1-56085-177-5/ $14.95
Something about the evening outside the chapel—holding a candle, surrounded by friends while a woman inside is questioned about her belief in a female deity—spins itself into verse. The memory of a sensuous rendition of “Summertime” in church by a vocal-piano-cello trio inspires another poem. But the poet finds no more irony in these events than in everyday occurrences, given a world of paradoxes. He probes and elucidates but doesn’t despair; he relishes the subtleties and unravels the puzzles that others take for granted. At times, he settles back and enjoys the moment..
From the cover:
“Paul Swenson is naturally poetic. He hears the rhythms of language, the sounds of words, and his poems are full of music, complete with references to hymns, musicals, Dylan, the blues. He is engaged with people and manages to make ordinary characters, for instance those in his LDS ward, seem vividly present. He pays attention to outsiders and their different experiences.
“In short, he is a corrective to the ascetic, bland, self-satisfied, and authoritarian aspects of Mormon culture. You can feel the sensuality in the poems, which are full of lively people, scents, colors. His underlying vision amounts to a yearning for Jesus, compassion, family love, resurrection, and the feminine in all realms of existence.”
—Susan Elizabeth Howe, poet; contributing editor of Tar River Poetry; former poetry editor, Dialogue; author of Stone Spirits.
Paul Swenson (pictured here at a candlelight vigil for Lynne Knavel Whitesides during her church court) is a well-known Utah journalist, film critic, and writer. He is the former editor or associate editor of Utah Holiday magazine, the Salt Lake Observer,and The Event; a former staff writer for the Deseret News; and is currently teaching in the communications department at Utah Valley State College. He follows in the footsteps of his sister May Swenson, who is among the most anthologized American poets.
A Motley Vision