Todd Davis has won the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize. He teaches
creative writing, American literature, and environmental studies at
Penn State University’s Altoona College. He has authored and edit...
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Least of These, The
Poems by Todd Davis
Listen to a podcast of GARRISON KEILLER reading Todd
Davis poems on WRITER'S ALMANAC
Davis's Poems on
POEM OF THE WEEK.ORG
Todd Davis appears on HOW A POEM HAPPENS: Contemporary
Poets Discuss the Making of Poems
Over the course of this masterful and heartfelt book it becomes clear
that Davis not only loves the life he's been given but also believes
that the ravishing desire of this world can offer hope, and even joy,
however it might be negotiated. Drawing upon a range of stories from
the Christian, Transcendental, and Asian traditions, as well as from
his own deep understanding of the natural world, Davis explores the
connection between the visible and invisible worlds, or what Pierre
Teilhard de Chardin called "the incandescent
surface of matter plunged in God."
A direct poetic descendant of Walt Whitman, Davis invites us
to sing "'the songs we collect in the hymnals of our flesh /
impromptu, a cappella, our mouths flung
open / in a great wide O."
THE LEAST OF THESE
As we walk through the tall grass,
my youngest squats, calls me back
to look at the shrew he's found,
really only her death mask.
Carrion beetles scuttle in
and out of eye holes, backs
shelled yellow and black,
like a child's faith in the turning
of day and night, showing us
how the spirit departs, how
the flesh vanishes, too.
THE SAINTS OF APRIL
Coltsfoot gives way to dandelion,
plum to apple blossom. Cherry fill
sour woods, white petals melting
like the last late snow. Dogwood’s
stigmata shine with the blood
of this season. How holy
forsythia and redbud are
as they consume their own
flowers, green leaves running
down their crowns. Here is
the shapeliness of bodies
newly formed, the rich cloth
That covers frail bones and hides
roots that hold fervently
to this dark earth.
— For Jack Ridl
"Many poets feel that they know the natural world, but Todd Davis has absorbed this world fully into his
heart and mind. He is a fine, rare poet." - JIM HARRISON, author of DALVA
"In The Least of These, man is not master of all he surveys but a creature like any other, smaller and less important than the land he inhabits. This quiet reverence permeates the book. Formally the poems vary in length and use a number of different verse styles. Davis has a special gift for compression, however,
and his shortest pieces are often the most powerful." - West Branch
"Davis isn’'t shy about challenging the tenets of Christian faith, even while this faith is his deep grounding. And 'grounding' takes on wonderfully literal reverberations throughout Davis's poetry, rooted as it is in our earth and all that lives on it. Not every poem in The Least of These has specific gospel allusions...."
- PEGGY ROSENTHAL, http://imagejournal.org
140 pp., 6 " x 9 ", November