"If rhyme and meter are, as Heaney said, the table manners of the language arts, then Angela Alaimo O'Donnell has set out a sumptuous feast, if not bardic, then beatific, recalling a time when pilgrims knew to spread good word by heart." -Thomas Lynch, author of Walking Papers and The Sin-eater: A Breviary Still Pilgrim is a collection of poems that chronicles the universal journey of life as seen through the eyes of a keenly-observant friend and fellow traveler. The reader accompanies the Still Pilgrim as she navigates the experiences that constitute her private history yet also serve to remind us of our own moments of enlightenment, epiphany, and encounter with mystery. Each of the 58 poems of the collection marks a way station along the pilgrimage, a kind of holy well where the Pilgrim and reader might stop and draw knowledge, solace, joy, and the strength to continue along the path.
At the center of this spiritual travel book lies a paradox: the Pilgrim's desire for the gift of stillness amid the flux and flow of time, change, and circumstance. "Be still and know that I am God," sings the Psalmist, channeling the voice of the divine. "Teach us to care and not care. Teach us to sit still," prays the poet, T.S. Eliot. Still Pilgrim depicts and embodies this human dilemma--our inevitable movement through time, moment by moment, day by day, and the power of art to stop both time and our forward march, to capture the present moment so we might savor the flavor of life.
"The Still Pilgrim's history consists of flashes of joy and visitations of sorrow, engagement with saints and with artists (the Pilgrim's personal patron saints), epiphanies sparked by words and songs and stories, revelations triggered by encounters with beauty and terror. The gentle reader who perseveres through these poems is no longer merely a reader--he or she is a partner in pilgrimage and a friend. These poems have become your poems, this story your story, bespeaking our (un)common beginnings and our equally (un)common end." -Angela Alaimo O'Donnell, from the Afterword