Do poetry and criticism matter in today's world?
How can the poetry of the past help us tackle the changing nature of religious faith and national identity?
This book explores the creation of Redcrosse, a new poetic liturgy for St George's Day and a unique collaborative work written by the critic Ewan Fernie, the theologian Andrew Shanks and the major
contemporary poets Jo Shapcott, Michael Symmons Roberts and Andrew Motion. Leading writers - including John Milbank, Salley Vickers and Sarah Apetrei, together with authors of Redcrosse itself - reflect on the creation of the liturgy and its central inspiration, Edmund Spenser's epic Renaissance poem, The Faerie Queene, as well as on its two premieres in St George's Chapel, Windsor and Manchester Cathedral, and its sometimes controversial public reception.
Including the full text of Redcrosse, the volume triumphantly shows that a new poetic work really can address some of the most pressing concerns of our time.
'The Redcrosse project has demonstrated how true liturgy is a quest for liturgy and a continuing self-questioning. It cannot evade the specificity of place and circumstance, even though these might lean towards bias: being reconciled to the tendril of our own path is our only way to attain a specific glimpse of the universal. So here the ambivalent legacy of the English Red Cross and the cult of St George are embraced and yet ritually purged with the help of the mythopoeic vision of Edmund Spenser: the blood of ugly victory becomes the pelican blood of suffering and searching, and triumph is itself turned into the miraculous arrival of always particular and always social grace. The essays in the volume take forward the task of the liturgy and open the way to more such awakenings in future.' -- Catherine Pickstock, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, author of After Writing: On the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy 'A collective quest for renewal and reform, which invests in the future of poetry by rewedding liturgy and literature. Assembling a stellar team of poets, scholars, and clergy, this civic experiment with the legacy of Spenser and the legend of St. George aims to reconnect people and peoples, faith and faiths, through the participatory power of the poetic Word.' -- Julia Reinhard Lupton, University of California, Irvine, USA, author of Thinking with Shakespeare and Citizen-Saints 'A moving and provocative book, often baffling, and even knowingly quixotic in its accounts of the hard work of these devoted poets, scholars, clerics, and theologians in shaping from Spenser's wild allegorical romance a 'questing liturgy' for the English Church of today. It is far from what the ordinary reader of Spenser (if such a creature exists!) might expect, but the questions this book poses stay with me.' -- Kenneth Gross, University of Rochester, USA, author of Spenserian Poetics: Idolatry, Iconoclasm, and Magic; Shylock is Shakespeare; and most recently Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life 'This is a valuable and generous book. Valuable because it exemplifies how profound and ancient symbols of our culture may become active again in the modern imagination. Generous because this project yearns to give and include, to listen and confess, undaunted by the authority of the past or by the face of opposition.' -- Liam Semler, University of Sydney, Australia, President of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association "How do we think about identity in ways that don't reflect anxiety, fear of the other, uncritical adulation of our past and all the other pitfalls that surround this subject? The Redcrosse project manages to negotiate these difficulties with immense imaginative energy and honesty: no sour notes, no attempt to overcompensate by desperately overapologetic rhetoric,simply a recovery of deep roots and generous vision. It's a contemporary working out of some of the great and inexhaustible legacy of Blake, a unique contribution to what is often a pretty sterile discussion of who we are in these islands." -- Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, UK What light can poetry shed on religious belief and national identity? Redcrosse...is a collection of essays in which the editor, a Shakespearean scholar, theologian Andrew Shanks, and contemporary poets Jo Shapcott, Michael Symonds Roberts and Andrew Motion reflect on this question... This is an important resource for St George's Day. Church of England Newspaper 20130421