Retold and Untold Stories From the Bible [Poems]

by Joseph A. Soldati


Book Details

Different Points of View of Familiar Biblical Characters and Events

In this emotionally affecting and intellectually penetrating new volume, Joseph A. Soldati delivers the culmination of a master writer’s crowning achievement. These breathtaking and provocative poems at long last provide voice to the voiceless and humanize the mere representational figures of The Bible. But the deepest resonance comes from the more collective moments of these wondrously imagined and re-imagined tales. Soldati shows that such difficult stories that have long challenged our world are as essential and as relevant as ever today for all of us: believers, doubters, and atheists alike. One of the most moving reading experiences I have ever had, Sacrifices will have a profound literary impact as long, if not longer than the years between the original telling of The Scriptures and Soldati’s incredible reinvigoration of them for a modern audience. – Eric Wasserman, Associate Professor of English, The University of Akron, Author of The Temporary Life and Celluloid Strangers, a Novel Sacrifices evokes and freshly illuminates stories from the Old and New Testament. The collection’s force, in part, is the poet’s masterful use of the persona poem. Joseph Soldati gives voice to Samson’s self-loathing, Vashti’s sense of loss and dignity, to the lecherous and greedy innkeeper who sheltered Joseph and Mary, and to Mary Magdalene who cries, “You said it [death] would come, / and I did not believe.” He takes us into the ancients’ complex inner lives and to their violent and passionate external manifestations; these poems transport us into a world that mirrors our own. – Willa Schneberg, Recipient of the Oregon Book Award in Poetry Sacrifices joins and builds on traditions—both recent and centuries-old—of supplementing the Bible’s explicit narrative with creative extrapolation and filling-in-of-gaps. David and Goliath from Goliath's perspective (afraid), the rising of Lazarus from Lazarus’s perspective (ambivalent)—these are two of my favorite of these poems. They help me take in the stories from perspectives other than my usual, perspectives different from my own but also ultimately closer to my own truth than I expected. So, I’m counting Joe Soldati among John Rawls, Atticus Finch, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Bible itself, voices that challenge me to perceive the world from a wider and wider perspective. His poems give me a greater sense of multiple experiences, more compassion for each of us (and each piece of us) involved, and hope that it be “not so bad here” after all (in the words of his Eve and Adam). – Joel Nightingale Berning, M.Div., hospital chaplain, New York City Sacrifices shows Joe Soldati to be a worthy inheritor of the great Biblical commentators as well as a master observer of human nature. His persona poems of familiar Biblical figures offer dramatic insights and “human poignancy,” his poetry always probing at the text, revealing untold truths. This is Biblical exegesis robed in poetry at its highest calling. – Steven Sher, Jerusalem, Israel


About the Author

Joseph A. Soldati

Joseph A. Soldati has been writing poetry since 1958; his early poems were terrible, and he hopes he has improved during the past sixty years. A retired college professor and twice a Fulbright Fellow, he is also a Vietnam War veteran. Joe, as he is known, has visited many countries and lived and studied in West Africa, Egypt, Mexico, and in Europe. He is the author of a scholarly book, six poetry collections, including Sacrifices, and has published both poems and essays in a variety of literary journals and magazines. Residents of Portland, Oregon, he and his cat, Tramp, are both in their 70s, and thinking about slowing down if they make it to the next decade.