Still Pilgrim: Poems

Still Pilgrim: Poems

by Angela Alaimo O'Donnell


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“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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612618647
Publisher: Paraclete Press
Publication date: 04/01/2017
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.23(d)

About the Author

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, Ph.D., is a writer, poet, and professor. She teaches English, Creative Writing, and courses in Catholic Studies at Fordham University in New York City and serves as Associate Director of Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. She is also co-editor of the Curran Center’s new book series, “Studies in the Catholic Imagination: The Flannery O’Connor Trust Series,” published by Fordham University Press.

Table of Contents

Prologue: To Be a Pilgrim xiii


The Still Pilgrim Invents Dawn 3

The Still Pilgrim Visits Ellis Island 4

The Still Pilgrim Recollects Her Childhood 5

The Still Pilgrim Honors Her Mother 6

The Still Pilgrim Recounts Disaster 7

The Still Pilgrim Learns to Write 8

The Still Pilgrim Considers Her Options 9

The Still Pilgrim Considers Home Economics 10

The Still Pilgrim Searches for Home 11

The Still Pilgrim Conjures Robert Lax 12

The Still Pilgrim Tells a Fish Story 13

The Still Pilgrim Talks to Her Mother 14

The Still Pilgrim Considers Two Birches 15

The Still Pilgrim Runs 16


The Still Pilgrim Recreates Creation 19

The Still Pilgrim Becomes a Mother 20

The Still Pilgrim Sings to Her Child 21

The Still Pilgrim Moves 22

The Still Pilgrim Hears a Diagnosis 23

The Still Pilgrim Ponders Perfection 24

The Still Pilgrim Ponders Metaphor 25

The Still Pilgrim Considers Christ's Table Manners 26

The Still Pilgrim Visits the Catacombs 27

The Still Pilgrim Stalks Wordsworth 28

The Still Pilgrim's Homage to Robert Frost 29

The Still Pilgrim Discovers Botero's Adam and Eve 30

The Still Pilgrims Love Song to Lost Summer 31

The Still Pilgrim Gives Herself Driving Directions 32


The Still Pilgrim Considers a Hard Teaching 35

The Still Pilgrim's Homage to Mr. Turner 36

The Still Pilgrim Revisits the British Museum 37

The Still Pilgrim Considers Sicily 38

The Still Pilgrims Dis-placement 39

The Still Pilgrim Greets All Souls 40

The Still Pilgrim's Insomnia 41

The Still Pilgrim Talks to Her Body 42

The Still Pilgrim Considers the Eye 43

The Still Pilgrim Sees a Healing 44

The Still Pilgrim Faces the Wall 45

The Still Pilgrim Hears a Story on the Feast of St. Sinatra 46

The Still Pilgrim Hosts Christ 47

The Still Pilgrim Addresses Father Solstice 48


The Still Pilgrims Thoughts upon Rising 51

The Still Pilgrim Recalls the Beatitudes 52

The Still Pilgrim Visits Fort Tryon Park 53

The Still Pilgrim Recounts Another Annunciation 54

The Still Pilgrim's Easter Morning Song 55

The Still Pilgrim Imagines the Eucharist 56

The Still Pilgrim Makes Dinner 57

The Still Pilgrim's Penance 58

The Still Pilgrim Welcomes Pentecost 59

The Still Pilgrim Celebrates Spring 60

The Still Pilgrim Describes How Heaven Is 61

The Still Pilgrim in Love 62

The Still Pilgrim Reinvents Shakespeare 63

The Still Pilgrims Refrain 64

Epilogue: The Still Pilgrim Ponders a Paradox 65

Afterword 67

Acknowledgments 73

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“In Angela O’Donnell’s collection Still Pilgrim, we find poetic discipline wedded to discipleship, as handmaid to the exigencies of love. . . .O’Donnell reminds us that, while we are all in constant motion, ‘hurtling through the universe,’ we travel best by gravitating toward the stillness of belonging, attuned not only to who we are, but also, more importantly, for whom and in whom we are. Still Pilgrim speaks, sacredly, of this outward/inward journey where to seek ourselves is to empty our self into the hands of the Beloved.”—Sofia M. Starnes, Virginia’s Poet Laureate from 2012 to 2014, author of five poetry collections and editor of two poetry anthologies
“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 
“I am amazed and awestruck by Angela Alaima O’Donnell’s Still Pilgrim. Her choice of form, the sonnet sequence, is a sign of her devotion to the best and most valuable of the highest literary tradition of the past.  Alongside this fidelity, she makes the daring move of including what has been considered undesirable subject matter for contemporary writers: the ordinary lived life of women, and the ardor and anguish of a religious life. Still Pilgrim insists that there is a place for a mother’s garters and the Beatitudes, that the arrows that pierced St. Theresa’s bowels are the very same that pierce the new mother’s heart as she holds her child. Still Pilgrim is a remarkable achievement.” —Mary Gordon, author, most recently, of The Love of My Youth and The Liar’s Wife

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