Foreword by Rev Billy Talen
An engaging, moving, and poignant book of poetry from a well-known leader, educator, and writer with notable endorsements from Reverend Billy Talen (Church of Stop Shopping), Carolyn Martin (poetry editor at Kosmos Journal), and Alice Reys (Singer Dancer) among others.
Colin Greer knows a lot about a lot. His rich life as an educator and author/playwright, immersed in the social and political justice trenches, is reflected in his latest poetry. The 150 poems in If But My Gaze Could Heal are thoughtfully broken into five thematic chapters: With or Without Which, Mischief and Melancholy, Stick out your Tongue, Phew!, and What is Hidden and Hidden From. In this collection, he muses on the human condition through verse, taking the reader through the ordinary, the personal, the sublime and tragic.
“Colin Greer is in conversation with some of the greats and he is holding his own.”—Dr. Cornel West, professor, philosopher, author, activist
“When Wallace Stevens proclaimed, ‘In poetry, you must love the words, the ideas and the images and rhythms with all your capacity to love anything at all,’ he could have been describing Colin Greer’s astonishing collection If But My Gaze Could Heal. In poem after poem, Greer gob smacks us with an imagination in overdrive that leaves us reeling with characters, philosophies, perspectives, and metaphors that dance dervishly across lines that won’t stand still. Yet, he occasionally gives us a breather to ponder aphoristic wisdom like ‘I’ve read grace fills empty spaces./So there’s hope even if stars burn out,’ and it ‘Takes time to look, to see, to turn up the heat.’ This rich and intriguing collection requires taking time, time to gaze with the poet as ‘The Earth quakes/Ready to take one for the team/If we can learn/to listen.’ A hallmark of Greer’s art, this book ignites the heat of surprise, awe, and, if we listen closely enough, the grace in empty spaces.”—Carolyn Martin, Ph.D., Poet and Poetry Editor of Kosmos Quarterly: Journal for Global Transformation
“There is a longing in this poet-activist, who sees more than we can bear, but mirth and joy are part of the seeing and it draws us there.”—Matt Weiner, Associate Dean, Office of Religious Life at Princeton University
“Being the body and voice for ‘Treaty Between Self and Earth’ poems was without a doubt one of the deepest and most exciting challenges of my acting career. My soul was touched by every single word, giving me the opportunity to make an even deeper connection with the piece and give layers and colors to the character. Such strong and delicate matter, translated in the most beautiful and poetic way possible is a true gift for me as an actor and I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to experience and embody something so incredibly special.”—Alice Reis, actor, singer, dancer
“Gripping, suspenseful and funny in a way that few poets are—Greer has managed to create something quite rare and extraordinary: a page turner. His writing about politics reminds one of what is important in everyday life, and his writing about everyday life could motivate you to enter politics. His poetry is almost deceptively easy to read. The author has a rhythm and ease that invites us to sit down, as if for a casual conversation with a friend—only to then find yourself enjoying a deeper discourse on the meatiest and toughest subjects in American public life—power, class, race, politics. And just when we get comfortable talking, he moves us to stand up and act.”—Svante Myrick, Executive Director of People For the American Way
“I love this collection of poems—it is a book I will keep by my side always. When I read Colin Greer’s poetry, I hear music. And then I close my eyes and see images, vivid images, that linger and dance above consciousness. I travel from the future to the ancient past with astonishing stops along the way that dare me to open my eyes to think about the world in ways I never thought possible.”—N. Scott Johnson, architect, artist, musician, composer
“Reading Colin’s poetry is much like standing in between two mirrors in an attic: I face the multitudes of humanity—from beauty to brutality—in a mise an abyme of ghost stories. This particular collection gifts us a sliver of hope for breaking the curse. A sobering, hands-in-the-dirt kind of hope – the only kind I trust these days. Nothing left to think about, they tell me, time to dive in.”—Esther Meroño Baro, community organizer and multimedia artist
“These evocative poems examine the human condition in all of its wonder and all of its failings. At turns erudite and terrestrial, Greer’s voice implores the reader to look closer, to draw connections, to fly from branch to branch, and we do.”—Emma Straub, author of This Time Tomorrow