“All poetry is spiritual,” Robert Strong points out in his introduction. “As I worked on this anthology, I heard this sentiment again and again, from poets and readers alike. The spiritual, after all, is what our existence soaks in; it is both everywhere and ineffable, always right here and just out of reach. We see it in blades of grass, sense it in love and in the cries of newborns, in the eyes of the dying, in volcanoes and choirs…”
This anthology of over 300 poems brings together America’s diverse spiritual traditions in one volume. Ancient Native songs from the Chippewa, Inuit, Ojibwa, Osage, Hopi, Pawnee, and Sioux are included beside traditional Protestant hymns and generous selections from Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Wallace Stevens, T.S. Eliot, and many contemporary poets such as Frank O’Hara, Linda Pastan, Gerald Stern, Toi Derricotte, Agha Shahid Ali, B.H. Fairchild, Anne Waldman, Bob Hicok, and Mark Doty.
Joyful Noise: An Anthology Of American Spiritual Poetry is a beautiful book. Regardless of the reader’s purpose—poetic, educational, theological, sociological, historical, or just reading for the plain old fun of reading—the end result is an explanation, a poetic and historically accurate explanation of the place of spirituality in American life.
—JOHN SAMUEL TIEMAN, Coal Hill Review