Poetry is an art that takes years to develop and refine. Even when the pinnacle of skill is applied, however, without a unique and interesting take on the world most poetry falls flat–making the men and women who have successfully solidified themselves in history all the more brilliant.
With the release of his new book, American World, American Psalm, poet Nicholas Samaras may have done just that.
Samaras, a National Endowment of the Arts Poetry Fellowship recipient, has reinvented modern poetry with this groundbreaking book. In his new book, Samaras gives the reader brand new insight into one of the oldest text’s in existence, The Book of Psalms from the Bible. The poet combines a sense of morality that is virtually unmatched with a concrete abstraction reminiscent of the likes of a Pablo Neruda.
Nicholas Samaras is not new to innovative thinking–in addition to the acclaim his first book Hands of the Saddlemaker has received, earning him the Yale series of Young Poet’s Award, signs of a similar inventive thinking is displayed in his poem “Eve Naming Things”, an alternative view on the story of the Garden of Eden.
Growing up in a combination of England and Greece, Samaras’s diverse background and worldly experiences has shaped him into the writer he has become. With poems published in such places as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Paris Review, Samaras has surpassed himself with American Psalm, World Psalm.
“…it’s political, and socially-critiquing, ” Samaras stated. “Some may read it as spiritual. To me, it goes much deeper than that.”
And I must say, I do agree. According to Samaras, who is a close personal friend, as well as Teacher in my past, present, and future: “Steven Wright said ‘It’s been a while since the New Testament was written. I think it should now be called the Old Testament and the Most Recent Testament.’ I loved that and got to thinking about how the psalms are really based in very old songs, and what would it be like if we had contemporary psalm/songs based on American tunes, jazz, rhythm and blues, pop, hip hop, etc.”
The result is a lyrical mastery of words. “American Psalm, World Psalm” has solidified Nicholas Samaras his place in the literary anthologies of the future.