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99 Meditations for a Modern-Day Habakkuk by Christine M. Bodine

99 Meditations for a Modern-Day Habakkuk

by Christine M. Bodine

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

A series of brief, meditative poems revolving around illness, injustice and God.

“I am inexplicably drawn to the minor prophets of the Old Testament,” Bodine explains in the preface of her new collection of “meditations.” She says that they came out of her study of the biblical book of Habakkuk and her own encounters with illness and injustice. But this work is far from being a daily devotional or memoir. “[A]ny meditation inspired by Habakkuk must have a poetic or sublime nature,” Bodine writes, and poetry is the best way to describe her brief, powerful pieces. She presents them in three different sections: argument, acceptance and awe, which she also sees as a description of Habakkuk’s actions: “He questions, he shakes his fist, he does what is necessary to get answers, to be one with god.” Bodine takes readers through her emotional battle with her religious faith over the course of her illness—not through direct narrative or biblical interpretation, but through beautifully abstracted moments, including passing thoughts she addresses directly to God: “What were you thinking when you conjured up disease?” she asks him. “If you’re fishing for compliments on this one, let me tell you, I’m not a fan.” At these times, Bodine’s meditations become sublime. For the most part, her tone remains intelligent, authoritative and even grandiose, but she also sneaks in dry, witty and snide comments. Her dialogue with her creator often feels as darkly funny as a David Sedaris story or a Julia Sweeney routine, and like those comedy masters, she has perfect timing: “So unladylike of me to shout,” she says to God, “yet this is what I am reduced to. I am she-who-is-pretty-exquisite-at-arguing.” By adding such moments to her biblical reflections, Bodine has created something very clever, very honest and very human.

A challenging, inspiring and funny work for anyone who loves the poetic form.