2018 California Book Award Finalist
Anarcho-socialism meets Christian mysticism in an Occupy veteran's avant-garde poems.
The third full-length collection from poet-scholar-activist David Brazil, Holy Ghost is a hymnal with secular burdens, poured from the mold of our actual life in common, sung against its limits. It seeks a way to find and build a soul together, and records the seekers' findings along the way, proposing love as our common human denominator. A record of the author's struggle to forge a relationship between two distinct vocations—one historical, as an activist (with Occupy Oakland, among other projects), and one spiritual, as he explores the path of radical Christian discipleship (in his life as a pastor)—Holy Ghost attempts to articulate an understanding of where class struggle meets the will of God.
David Brazil is a poet, translator, and novelist. His books include The Ordinary and Antisocial Patience. With Kevin Killian, he edited the Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater 1945-1985. From 2008 to 2011 he published over sixty issues of the seminal TRY! magazine with Sara Larsen. David co-pastors a house church in Oakland and works for social justice with the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy. He's a Scorpio.
Praise for Holy Ghost:
"Musings on Holy Ghost . . . remarkable loveliness . . . a Soul singing praises to souls, free of general rancor . . . One of the special books of this decade and should be read by Souls or Ghosts or Geists in search of assurance and aware of Ecclesiastes' Preacher who says that the souls of men fly up, up, up, and that the undersoul of beasts dives down, down into the earth. A key to Holy Ghost is that it's all going at once in all directions. Each time Brazil's extended poem folds, or curls, or shifts, the point of concentration or consideration is experienced as if under a loupe of the spirit. It is clear that the Holy Ghost is everywhere at all times at once. The poem is not held to historical imaginings of time-space. Resembling the speech of Dogen in his visionary 13th-century fascicles, or the Cloud of Unknowing, or Saint Francis' lamb in the furnace, Holy Ghost does not speak about itself—it is itself. There is not wisdom to speak of because the field for wisdom does not exist except in a convention that is elsewhere. Brazil's Holy Ghost is as Romantic as a long poem by Percy Shelley. An act of beauty—breath-taking. As unexpected as A.N. Whitehead's Function of Reason and Christian Morgenstern's nonsense poetry. Brazil brings to mind the tenseless, non-subjective (not centered on the 'I' figure), and numberless of some Asian languages. I free-float in the presence of this wholly Kindness-Ghost as I would float in a Navajo world—like that world, the surrounding is strange and natural. Bask in it . . . Slip in or out of it . . . Any muscular ring or reflection in, on, or part of the Holy Ghost, is the Ghost. The Holy Ghost shimmers with Jack Kerouac's Blues, and on the page (typographically) can be as precise as Diane di Prima's poetry and Leslie Scalapino's . . . It's not impossible to hear Kurt Cobain humming in the background."––Michael McClure
"All singing is contemporaneous in the heart, & thus I'd call Holy Ghost heart-felt. It keeps time with the forms of its devotion, touching various eras of diction, prayer & song & verse & hymn. In the mind then, all at once, it does becomes a work of love; for the reader, for paths of grace & liberation, & for the singing that refuses to abide our time but takes its measure, day by day, in wounded, contemplative poems. Everywhere it must be poor it is. It comes to us in penury because the search for company & love is the struggle of students & poets who seeks out such wealth in an era when they're ever more in peril. So it arrives rich, by which I mean empty handed, & so doing makes the book into a little ball of light, a trove of mercy's tone, & my heart's treasure." ––Dana Ward
"'When time is the instrument, grace is the measure,' writes David Brazil, in this dazzling book of 'earthly liturgy.' These poems of glorification, joyful and solemn, speak to the erasure of the boundary between mrtam/amrtam (death/non-death) and recall Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience as well as Robert Duncan's Heavenly City Earthly City. With clarity and infinite finesse, the rhythms and tensile swing of Brazil's writing direct hymn's availability, from today's idiomatic speech to a yesteryear of sermon and rune. Every note counts."––Norma Cole