Unquiet Vigil: New and Selected Poems (Paraclete Poetry) (Paperback)

Unquiet Vigil: New and Selected Poems (Paraclete Poetry) By Br. Paul Quenon, ocso Cover Image
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Before In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk's Memoir, Paul Quenon gave us Unquiet Vigil

What might briefly tumble through a monks mind, or be hard chiseled over a span of years, what might be gleaned while ranging high along the Kentucky knobs, or what quietly emerges while sitting in the dark before dawn—these are the inner and outer landscapes of the religious poems found in Unquiet Vigil. From nocturnal Vigils to close listening to the liturgy of crickets, these are litanies of love and life, work, patience, and prayer. These poems are collected from over two decades of writing, and seasoned with the savor of five decades of living a monastic life.

About the Author


Born in West Virginia, Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO, entered the Trappists in 1958 at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, where Thomas Merton was his Novice Master. He is the author of many poetry collections including Unquiet Vigil, and a recent memoir, In Praise of the Useless Life.

Praise For…


“Vigil-keeping is an ancient Christian practice handed down through the generations as one way of dealing with troublesome patches of difficulty, doubt, depression, uncertainty, and waiting. This sturdy spiritual path is more relevant than ever but not many believers are familiar with its intentional aim to abide, trust, and embrace the darkness while looking for the light. Hard times and the challenge of overcoming obstacles both enable us to discern the loving presence of God and be tutored in the art of active waiting...On the spiritual discipline of watching, we were especially moved by Brother Quenon’s reverence for little birds ‘who come in plain jackets’ and sing ‘so extravagantly.’ We were touched by a poem where the author pays tribute to Jesus for having ‘such exquisite care / not to disturb the surface of water / that he could walk on it.’” —Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice

“Here is what it says on the back: ‘What tumbles through a monk's mind in the course of a day? What might be gleaned while ranging high along the Kentucky knobs, or quietly emerge while sitting in the dark before dawn? Inner and outer landscapes form the poems in Unquiet Vigil.’  These are very nice, very artful and quite moving; I enjoyed his opening essay, too. This poet-monk has been at this a long time; his Novice Master, Fr. Louis, was also a renowned poet. You may know him by his more public name, Thomas Merton. And, there is a blurb on the back by Maurice Manning who says ‘it is a joy to have this book.’” —Hearts and Minds

“In the second paragraph of his introduction to Unquiet Vigil, poet Paul Quenon makes clear that he writes poetry as a means to the end of ‘enhancing his monastic vocation.’  In that self-knowledge lies the key to this collection’s resonance and depth.  The poems give voice to a tautology, between the poems and the life – they’re seamless and inseparable – a unity, a precious and extraordinary thing to encounter in a culture founded in the separation of body and mind, flesh and spirit.  In them we engage the reality of a Trappist monk who has dedicated fifty-eight of his seventy-five years to the single-hearted love and praise of what I can only call God...These poems find their truths in the tension between a life lived behind enclosure walls and a purity of truth that only an authentic life can generate.  The life is cloistered, sure – but from ongoing, never-ending contemplation arises a fuller and more robust world than most of us could imagine – or bear to live out.  Unquiet Vigil arises from and gives us, its readers, that world.” —Fenton Johnson is the author of the novel The Man Who Loved Birds and teaches in the creative writing programs at the University of Arizona and Spalding University.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781612615608
ISBN-10: 1612615600
Publisher: Paraclete Press
Publication Date: October 1st, 2014
Pages: 176
Language: English
Series: Paraclete Poetry