Depth Theology


Title Details

Pages: 72

Trim Size: 139.700mm x 215.900mm x 4.572mm



Pub Date: 04/01/2006

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2806-5

List Price: $19.95

Related Subjects

POETRY / American / General

Depth Theology


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  • Description
  • Reviews
Depth Theology taps the religious potential of poetry to access both the interior and the exterior worlds. Inspired by depth psychology, the field of psychology devoted to the unconscious, Peter O'Leary's poems work to discover the religious knowledge of the unconscious mind. While seeking a revelatory poetry, O'Leary engages the inconclusive quality of the revealed, observing that "There's / a liquidy trickiness to life, an entropy / of spillage." The religious imagination that evolves in this series of thirty-four poems is unclouded by dogma and richly colored by erudition, while it tests the limits of human language and experience in an effort to understand our inwardness. Overflowing with images of birds and other objects of day-to-day experience, interwoven with the mythic, allegorical, and biblical, Depth Theology charts a path to understanding our innermost worlds. From "Lux Contemplatio": "there is no place anymore for us to migrate. The need / yet remains. / Antarctica means now an interior domain. Curiosity / about our inner life increases. A nomad's desert God is an inward / generator. Our outward movement yields our soul's circumincession / its insitting / in rotation with the divine abeyance"

O'Leary is a most keen observer of the darklight reflected in words, especially in those of the sacred tradition. Drawing poetic energy from the black deposits of the Text, O'Leary advances the gnostic effort of (re)constructing a hidden God. I know this book will be placed between the works of Baudelaire and Scholem in the universal library.

—Andrew Joron, author of Fathom

Depth Theology harks back to some of the oldest moments of record and revelation while keeping baseball, parking lots, bumper stickers, boredom, broken drivebelts, Tommy Hearns, and the like in view. To call it old school is barely a beginning. Learned, bold, and assertive, it is a marvel of thinking the world's inwardness.

—Nathaniel Mackey, author of Atet A.D.

While asserting his desire to produce a revelatory poetry, O'Leary moves, with a boldness that lays bare the inconclusive quality of the revealed. The religious imagination that evolves in these poems is unfettered by dogma and richly colored by erudition while granting-repeatedly, courageously, and even humorously-the limits of human language and experience to invoke the inwardness O'Leary would map.

—Elizabeth Robinson, author of Apprehend

The poet of my general age group that I'm most consistently startled by.

Third Factory

This volume . . . is a massive contribution to contemporary poetry.

Cultural Society

To my notion, the best poems in Depth Theology derive their intensity from border skirmishes between body and spirit, waking and dreaming, concealment and revelation-precisely because in them we encounter the greatest reciprocity of movement.

—Chris Glomski, Jacket Magazine

About the Author/Editor

PETER O'LEARY earned his PhD from the University of Chicago Divinity School. The author of Watchfulness and Gnostic Contagion: Robert Duncan and the Poetry of Illness, he has also edited several collections of poetry by Ronald Johnson, including The Shrubberies, selections from which were included in The Best American Poetry 2002. He is the longtime coeditor of the literary magazine LVNG and an integral member of the Chicago Poetry Project. He currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.