Poetry: the New Adult Coloring Book?

“Is Poetry the New Adult Coloring Book?”

If Publisher’s Weekly’s recent musings on market trends become a reality, Paraclete Press is prepared with a deep backlist in this category. With two new releases in poetry every season, the focus on this genre for a religious publisher is unusual.

Publisher Jon M. Sweeney credits the house’s longstanding friendship with the late Phyllis Tickle (1934-2015) as the inspiration for a commitment to poetry that has been a core charism for the house for many years. As she said, “Paraclete is a house firmly rooted in presenting and curating religious poetry that has deep resonance and potent significance for the shaping of the surrounding culture itself. It means the on-going giving away and sharing of God with humility through mystery.”

Video trailers and social media buzz have taken a more significant role in launching poetry books in the past year, and Paraclete plans an even greater emphasis on reaching new readers through these platforms in the coming months.

Poetry Editor Mark Burrows’s introduction to the recently published Paraclete Poetry Anthology articulates why poetry is becoming increasingly important in our culture: “Poems awaken to us the sense of wonder by which we discover again and again traces of the beauty that saturates our world.”

For more information, contact Sr. Antonia Cleverly, srantonia@paracletepress.com(508) 255-4685 x 329

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.

In just over a month we will publish the beautiful title My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes. by author Roger Hutchison. Roger is from the Houston area and his home is right in the path of Hurricane Harvey. He, along with so many others, has evacuated his home and our prayers go out to him. In the midst of all of this Roger is approving the final edits of his book! He graciously sent us this post about the experience that inspired him in his vocation as an artist, and to write this book.

I am an artist. I paint at my Grandmother’s table, a table I once played under as a child and on which I enjoyed vibrant and delicious meals. The table became a Eucharistic symbol for me. It is the place where I go to paint, pray, and remember. It has become such an important place for me, that I knew I had to invite others to the table.

On Friday, May 3, at the invitation of Trinity Episcopal Church, I traveled to Sandy Hook and Newtown, CT.

I was invited to facilitate a painting session with the children of Trinity, Newton, their families, and their Sunday school teachers.

The undercroft of the church was set up with round tables. On each table we had canvas paper, paints, baby wipes, toothpicks, cotton swabs, pencils, writing paper, and scraps of cardboard. Everyone gathered at the tables…mothers with their children, friend with friend, and neighbor with neighbor. We lit a candle, I gave a few instructions, and the painting began.

It was a powerful evening that changed me at a cellular level.

I saw one mother comforting another mother as they both grieved for their friend who lost a child. I had a conversation with a 3rd grade girl who told me she had had a really bad day. Her painting was dark and frantic. I listened to her for a little while—then encouraged her to paint another one. The second painting was a bit more colorful. She took her two paintings and smashed them together. When she pulled them apart, the darkness had lifted. I could see light and love…and a beautiful smile.

I had a conversation with a young mother who told me that she feels guilty sometimes that she still has her children. She shared with me what it was like to take her children home on that tragic day—passing house after house with state patrol cars in the driveways.

And the mother who told me how her first-grader, a big boy for his age, had climbed up into her lap and sobbed when he learned that his friend was not going to be there when he returned to school.

I believe that within the grief that exists in tragedies such as the one that happened in Newtown or in our own personal losses, there is much hope, healing, and possibility.

While there is grief, sadness, and loss, there is also hope. There is an opportunity for celebration as we gather together, break bread, talk, and are welcomed. Whether it is through cooking, painting, or Eucharist, we come together to remember.

The text and illustrations of My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes. are designed to guide the reader through different emotions and reactions related to grieving, including shock, tears, anger, and hope. This book encourages and explores the rhythms of grief and healing using color, few words, honesty, and hope. Something I believe we all need.

Paradox at the Heart of Poetry—In Review

August 4, 2017)

Paradox colors the world, especially when seen through the eyes of faith, and paradox is at the heart of these poems. Consider the collection’s title: Still Pilgrim. How can a pilgrim, who is a traveler by definition, be characterized as still? “This world was never made for rest,” says “The Still Pilgrim Ponders a Paradox,” the poem serving as the book’s epilogue. “And still you stay as still can be / unmoved by your velocity.”

In these poems, the Still Pilgrim—seemingly the poet’s alter ego—reflects on longing and the world’s impermanence, the fleetingness of time and vivid memories, piercing joy and piercing grief.

 Even the most intense joys in these poems—as in the real world—never fully break free from the shadow of defeat and sorrow. The reader gets the sense that the Still Pilgrim is making a one-step-forward, two-steps-back kind of progress, which brings to mind C. S. Lewis’s description of fallen human life before God in The Problem of Pain: “Thus . . . all the days of our life, we are sliding, slipping, falling away—as if God were . . . a smooth inclined plane on which there is no resting.”
Companionability is a poetic virtue of special importance in our time and place, and it is abundantly present in O’Donnell’s poems. The Still Pilgrim says of her (by no means affluent) childhood home: “You’d never know we were among the least. / Bread was our mercy. Wine was our cure.” There is a generosity of spirit here, an unself-absorbed openness about the triumphs and vulnerabilities of our common experience of life. O’Donnell’s poems assume—even as they’re reaching toward it—a deep connection, a kind of communion with readers. How countercultural. How necessary here and now.

“We are living in an anti-art age. The world is now a brutal place and obsessed with speed and wealth.” So said singer and songwriter Paul Simon in a 2015 interview, and one could understandably fear, in such an age as ours, that poetry has finally become irrelevant. But I would like to think, and Angela O’Donnell’s engaging and deeply humane poems in Still Pilgrim encourage me in doing so, that poems will go on functioning as diverse mercies we can keep with us—at home or away—for the pleasure of their company and as a means of remembering who we are.

Read the full review from The Christian Century

Angela Alaimo-O’Donnell on how Stil Pilgrim came to be…


Feeding Your Family’s Soul

Paraclete Press
Orleans, Massachusetts
August 11, 2017

For Immediate Release

Since its publication one year ago Feeding Your Family’s Soul by bestselling author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle has been steadily gaining momentum. Written specifically for a Catholic audience, this book answers questions that face all parents of faith: How to keep the family meal time intact, and how to teach children important messages of faith in the midst of a busy and often chaotic life?

Now in its fourth printing, with over 14,000 copies sold, the book has been enthusiastically received by families and religious educators in parishes and schools.

Creative and specific, with lessons, activities, and recipes, this book has launched a brand that also includes laminated prayer cards for families (8,000 sold) and the release of an accompanying DVD. Author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle also has launched a branded TV series, Feeding Your Family’s Soul, that can be seen on EWTN’s network At Home with Jim and Judy show.

Legatus, the magazine for Catholic businessmen, now includes a monthly column, Feeding the Foodie. Donna-Marie shares monthly on the topic of nourishing both the body and the soul! Click here for her post on enjoying the fruits of labor and blessing, and a great recipe for Summer Double Berry Cobbler.

For more information, contact Sr. Antonia Cleverly, srantonia@paracletepress.com, (508) 255-4685 x 329

First Children’s Book on Thomas Merton Published to Acclaim!

Paraclete Press
Orleans, Massachusetts
August 4, 2017

For Immediate Release

On his visit to the USA, Pope Francis hailed Thomas Merton as one of four citizens who have shaped American values.

Until now, there have been no books for young children on the life of this important figure in our faith and spiritual culture. Published at a time when children’s book publishing is experiencing growth, this book teaches about Merton, monasticism, and the Christian life in a simple A – Z format.

The book launched mid-June at the International Thomas Merton Society 15th General Meeting at St. Bonaventure University and has received rave reviews from Patrick O’Connell, co-author of The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, Fr. Dan Horan, author of The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton, Fr. Laurence

Freeman of the World Community for Christian Meditation, Midwest Book Review, as well as Thomas Merton regional chapter coordinators nationwide.

Unique and thoroughly ‘kid friendly’ in tone, organization, and presentation, The ABCs of Thomas Merton: A Monk at the Heart of the World is as informative as it is entertaining and certain to be a popular addition to elementary school collections.”  — Midwest Book Review

“We now know for sure that children have an innate contemplative gift. It is so important that they are introduced to the church’s contemplative tradition early in life and Greg Ryan’s book for them on Merton will help them grow in this wisdom. Greg has perfect pitch in understanding the child’s mind and he has produced an invaluable asset for their early steps on life’s spiritual journey.” — Fr. Laurence Freeman, World Community for Christian Meditation

For more information, contact Sr. Antonia Cleverly, srantonia@paracletepress.com(505) 255-4685 x 329.