Rochelle Hurt is the author of The Rusted City, a novel-in-poems forthcoming from White Pine Press in 2014. She lives and works in North Carolina.
I have a personal essay, “A Disbeliever in Limbo” published in the latest issue (74) of Image, alongside a stellar interview with Marilynne Robinson and some wonderful poems by Alice Friman, among others. While Image is a literary journal devoted to writing and art that addresses spiritual subjects, it is by no means an evangelical publication. The editors seem to be interested primarily in literature—specifically, literature at the intersection of art and faith. This means that they publish work that engages the idea of faith, rather than work that proselytizes. (If only there were more religious organizations that worked this way.)
In my essay, I’ve tried to examine the parallels between religious language and medical language, confronting the need for faith in words and rituals in the treatment of illness (specifically, my own). The editors asked me to add a little to what I originally submitted, and in some ways that editing process helped me to more fully consider the irony of being a poet (daily putting faith in the power of words) who scoffs at prayer. How do I reconcile the two? In many ways, a poem and a prayer are one and the same. I think perhaps the best response to this question was written by Anne Sexton in “With Mercy for the Greedy”:
My friend, my friend, I was born
doing reference work in sin, and born
confessing it. This is what poems are:
for the greedy,
they are the tongue’s wrangle
the world’s pottage, the rat’s star.