December 28, 2004

The Pope & Poetry

I'm reading Cornwell's biography of Pope John Paul II and learned that the Holy Father hasn't written any poetry (or done any creative writing) since becoming Pope. Apparently, at least from Cornwell's account, he is sensitive about it; it's a subject he stiff-arms. The only comment he made to an inquiring Vatican monsignor was that poetry now lacks "context" - the environment of the papacy is not favorable for poetry. I was saddened to hear this for his sake because I think creative types lose some of their humanity when their creativity is truncated, even though I can understand why the enormous responsibility and loneliness of the highest Church office might discourage it. I feel personally sheepish for not writing more fiction & poetry despite having no crushing responsibilities to prevent it. So expect more Spam Poetry, more pointless meandering on this blog for the new year. In fact, the previous post was inspired by knowledge of the Pope's situation.

UPDATE: Steven Riddle pointed out this amazon.com description of The Poetry of Pope John Paul II: "In this trio of poems written in the summer of 2002, Pope John Paul II uses the imagery of a mountain stream, the Sistine chapel and the story of Abraham and Isacc as he reflects on God as the origin and end point of all creation and ponders the beginning and end of his time as Pope."

Since Cornwell wrote a book of fiction about Pius XII I realize this book probably has all the credibility of the National Enquirer (not to insult the Enquirer). I'm kind of embarrassed to be reading about it, but it's interesting to read what Chris Hitchens said about Mother Teresa or Cornwell about the current Pope if only to see what is the worse someone can dig up. On the other hand, if he's wrong about half the things he's writing about, how do I know what is right and what isn't?

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