Incarnadine by Mary Szybist
(Graywolf Press, 2013, 72 pages)
This is a beautiful collection of poems dealing, in part, with questions of faith and doubt. The Annunciation – the moment when the angel Gabriel announces to Mary the birth of Jesus – is the occasion for many of these meditations on the relationship between God and humanity, the spiritual and the material. Szybist uses a variety of forms, including prose poetry and other more experimental techniques. The most unique of these is found in the poem “It Is Pretty to Think,” which is written as a diagrammed sentence. While these poems are marked by contemporary struggles with the nature of faith, there is something reminiscent of more traditional devotional poetry. Szybist’s forms, particularly the sunburst arrangement of the lines in “How (Not) to Speak of God,” call to mind the marriage of visual form and content in George Herbert’s classic devotional poem “Easter Wings.” This collection will enhance and complicate its reader’s view of faith.