Perichoresis: Divine Choreography [poem, and “scattershot” form commentary]

I’m honored that Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry 2023 has recently published my poem “Perichoresis: Divine Choreography.”

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The term “perichoresis” has enchanted me since I first learned it in seminary. “Perichoresis” is an ancient Greek way of describing the Trinity, how the Three Persons of God continually dance. Many churches celebrate Trinity Sunday a week after Pentecost (in 2023, Trinity Sunday will fall on June 2nd). Two years ago, I preached a Trinity Sunday sermon called “When God Shakes Our Assumptions: A Poetic Journey.” This year, I offer a poem that explores perichoresis quaking. Perichoresis also rings with one of the prominent names of God in the Hebrew Bible: “I AM,” an active, swirling verb.

I don’t know a particular name for the poem’s form—for lack of a better term, I’ll call it “scattershot” (and if you know a name for this form, then please do let me know! :). More and more poets are writing scattershot nowadays, especially about chaotic topics. How to Write a Poem in a Time of War” by Joy Harjo is a recent, prominent example of this scattershot form.

As I reflect on my poem, which is very different in many ways from Harjo’s, I can only hope that my own use of the scattershot form reflects the centrifugal forces that sometimes emerge in in the Bible, such as during David’s ecstatic dancing in 2 Samuel 6, and pretty much all the Book of Ezekiel (especially the early chapters). And of course, in the Bible and beyond, such forces reveal themselves through perichoresis.

What topics do you think also lend themselves to a scattershot style of poetry? When you think about perichoresis, or the Three Persons of God dancing, what else comes to mind? I’d love to hear what you think!

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