The Peaceful Poetics of Afaa Michael Weaver

April 6, 2015 10:35 PM

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As art makers, we have a tendency to think of suffering as "grist for the mill." I certainly did once, and, in many ways, probably self-inflicted pain just so I could one day mine it for some provocative, confessional beauty that would carry me to a vague notion of poetic stardom, if such a thing exists. These days, I've come to believe that the value of suffering lies not in the artistic material it provides, but in the peace and clarity of vision its endurance affords. The poet Afaa Michael Weaver seems to lend evidence to this, having emerged from a barrage of harrowing experiences with a poetic voice that is both finely wrought and commanding in its conveyance of grace, harmony and forgiveness. The best of Weaver's poems, many of which can be found in his 2014 Kingsley-Tufts Award-winning collection The Government of Nature, ember with the soft insistence of fireflies, coaxing us toward wisdom, inviting us to remember truths we didn't know we knew, as Frost might say.

A Christian and devoted practitioner of Taoist meditation and Tai Chi, Weaver has relied on his spiritual practice in order to transcend trials that have included the death of his first child, Schan; fifteen years of factory work performed during a period in life that is, typically, the young poet's...

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