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Stars Shall Bend Their Voices:
Poets’ Favorite Hymns & Spiritual Songs

edited by Jeffrey L. Johnson


paper  /  162 pp.  /  $18.00
Orison Books
ISBN: 978-1-949039-21-4
Distributed to the trade by Itasca Books
1-800-901-3480  /
Publication Date: November 6, 2018


Read Alicia Ostriker’s essay “‘Amazing Grace’: Singer and Song” from Stars Shall Bend Their Voices at Poetry Daily!





In Stars Shall Bend Their Voices, some of the most respected living poets meditate on the role of hymns and spiritual songs in their lives and writing. Representing many spiritual traditions and many approaches to personal spiritual practice, Stars Shall Bend Their Voices is a testament to the lasting impact of spiritual music on many of today’s best poets.




“It’s a privilege to read the various hymns that are life-changing, and because poets feel as they write, it makes tender reading. The hymns’ lyrics are reproduced in their entirety, which gives us the key to each essayist’s experience, and makes the book a dialogue between the speaker and his/her hymn.”
Grace CavalieriThe Washington Independent Review of Books


“‘I like to sing,’ begins Alicia Ostriker in her essay that joins so many necessary voices of contemporary poetry. Each piece collected in this book allows for memoir, prayer, and rebellion in its examination of what hymns have meant and can mean to the culture, to the heart. In these pages, the writers you’d think of as most interested in skepticism lay bare their politics and their personal history in order to better know their relationship to faith.”

Jericho Brown, author of The New Testament


“From Zeina Hashem Beck’s memories of hearing prayers from Tripoli’s mosques to Linda Gregerson’s most beloved Christmas hymn, these essays reveal contemporary poets’ connections to spiritual songs: the lyric impulse, the importance of breath, the pull of anaphora and rhyme. Stars Shall Bend Their Voices is an illuminating—and luminous—collection.”

Maggie Smith, author of Good Bones


“Poets craft words to affect us; hymns sing words into our bodies. How wonderful, then, to read skilled poets speaking personally about hymns and spiritual songs they know. I love this wonderful compendium of poets who have taken hymns to heart—insightful, moving, and revelatory.”

Don E. Saliers, author of Music and Theology


"[A} felicitous collection."

Anglican Theological Review




Kaveh Akbar
Zeina Hashem Beck
Scott Cairns
Richard Chess
Kate Daniels
Kwame Dawes
Margaret Gibson
Dana Gioia
Lorna Goodison
Jason Gray
Linda Gregerson
Robert Hass
Edward Hirsch
Jay Hopler
Mark Jarman
Kimberly Johnson
Sydney Lea
Maurice Manning
Shara McCallum
Kathleen Norris
Yehoshua November 
Jacqueline Osherow
Alicia Ostriker
Vijay Seshadri
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley





Jeffrey L. Johnson studied at St. Olaf College, Yale Divinity School, and Boston University, and he is the author of Harbors of Heaven: Bethlehem and the Places We Love and Acquainted with Night: The Shadow of Death in Contemporary Poetry. He has received the Thomas Merton Foundation Poetry of the Sacred Award, and his poems and essays have appeared in The Christian Century, First Things, Christianity and Literature, Anglican Theological Review, Encounter, and The Mars Hill Review.

Stars Shall Bend Their Voices: Poets’ Favorite Hymns & Spiritual Songs

$18.00 Regular Price
$15.00Sale Price
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