Interview: Finding an Uncontainable God Within Finite Poetic Spaces - Living Strong Television Network
Interview: Finding an Uncontainable God Within Finite Poetic Spaces

Eastern Orthodox poet Scott Cairns reflects on his new collection, his journey of faith, and poetry’s capacity to apprehend inexhaustible realities.

Fans of the Harry Potter series might recall the magical tents from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In the film version, when the Weasleys take Harry and others to the Quidditch World Cup, the audience sees rows and rows of small tents, seemingly designed to sleep only one or two people. Harry is confused as he witnesses the others walk into a single tent, which can hold much more than its external size betrays. Once Harry follows suit, he stands in awe at a spacious interior containing several bunkrooms, a dining room, and a large living room.

This scene gives a helpful image for the ideas and realities Scott Cairns takes up in his new collection of poems, Lacunae. Cairns is an Eastern Orthodox poet whose work, besides ten poetry collections, includes essays, a spiritual memoir, and the text of two oratorios. Many of the poems in Lacunae concern the mystery of divine things, infinite in scope, somehow fitting within finite spaces and times. Just as Harry Potter was surprised to find all that was contained within an ostensibly small tent, one is shocked to find the fullness of God contained in Mary, and even more so, contained within every Christian by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Joey Jekel, a writer and classical educator in Texas, spoke with Cairns about Lacunae, as well as the nature of poetry and the theology that informs his own.

To borrow language from Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, could you give a brief account of your “sacred history?”

I was raised as a Baptist, albeit a Baptist of what we might call a particularly brittle sort. I suppose the saving grace of those years was that my parents wore our community’s fundamentalism relatively lightly. My father liked saying that a …

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