The Great Grandmother Light (Paperback)

By Joe Weil

NYQ Books, 9781935520801, 204pp.

Publication Date: October 21, 2013



Poetry. From 1982 until 2002, Joe Weil worked as a tool grinder and union shop steward in a mold making plant in Kenilworth, New Jersey. Many of the poems in THE GREAT GRANDMOTHER LIGHT were written on the graveyard shift while on break at the factory. There, Weil read the poetry of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda, Ceasar Vallejo, Gabrielle Mistral, Miguel Hernandez, Robert Creeley, Robert Kelly, and William Carlos Williams, as well as hundreds of contemporary poets. The poems in THE GREAT GRANDMOTHER LIGHT chart the history of his journey from tool grinder to university lecturer. Weil claims the common thread of his poems to be his "Catholic worker" sensibility and his reading in the Spanish poets as well as Simone Weil and Flannery O'Connor. "I am a Catholic writer," Weil says, "I believe in Eucharistic reality ... in beauty and truth hidden under the signs of what is broken and appears to be discounted. I agree with George Bernanos: all is grace. But this grace is difficult, sometimes impossible to quarry." Weil's poems are about the difficulty of quarrying grace where no one expects it to come. His poems read as if he expects to be ambushed by grace at any given moment. This is the great grandmother light, a light present at all times and in all places, that he shares with his readers.