Literature & Spirituality | Spencer Reece, poet

Event time: 
Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 1:30pm to 2:30pm
Marquand Chapel See map
409 Prospect St.
New Haven, CT 06511
Open to: 
General Public
Event description: 

The Road To Emmaus

Lectures and readings in Marquand Chapel followed by a book-signing and reception. Presented in collaboration with Yale Divinity Student Book Supply.

Spencer Reece (M.Div. ‘11) returns to Yale to read from his new book of poems, The Road to Emmaus, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux this spring.

Advance publicity for The Road to Emmaus: 



A moving, subtle sequence of narrative poems, from a sharp new poetic voice

Two strangers walk toward Emmaus. Christ has just been crucified, and they are heartbroken—until a third man joins them on the road and comforts them. Once they reach Emmaus and break bread, the pair realizes they have been walking with Christ himself. But in the moment they recognize him, he disappears. Spencer Reece draws on this tender story in his mesmerizing collection—one that fearlessly confronts love and its loss, despair and its consolation, and faith in all of its various guises.

Reece’s central figure in The Road to Emmaus is a middle-aged man who becomes a priest in the Episcopal Church; these poems follow him to New York City, to Honduras, to a hospital where he works as a chaplain, to a prison, to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. With language of simple, lyrical beauty that gradually accrues weight and momentum, Reece spins compelling dramas out of small moments: the speaker, living among a group of orphans, wondering “Was it true, what they said, that a priest is a house lit up?”; two men finding each other at a Coming Out Group; a man trying to become visible after a life that had depended on not being seen.

A yearning for connection, an ache of loneliness, and the instant of love disappearing before our eyes haunt this long-awaited second collection from Spencer Reece.



Praise for The Road to Emmaus

“The Road to Emmaus confirms why I have always looked to Reece’s work not only as inspiration for my own poems, but also as a guide for my soul. In this collection I follow his every footstep as he walks toward himself—toward myself—stopping to admire or fear what we see in ourselves, in others, in each other. Each poem a portrait or a self-portrait exquisitely and painstakingly drawn along the way, by the side of that proverbial road we journey with him, encountering life in all its loneliness and wholeness, its lucidness and doubt, its bitterness and glory.”
—Richard Blanco, Presidential Inaugural Poet and author of Looking for The Gulf Motel.

“These poems form a true and riveting narrative. Reading Reece makes you recall why you love poetry.” —Annie Dillard, author of The Maytrees and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

“Though many of Spencer Reece’s poems move forward with the narrative punch of short stories, they are packed with poetry’s exquisite insight and metaphoric brilliance. These are moral poems that speak of loneliness in terms so intimate that they seem to breech loneliness; they are both documents of isolation and manifestos of love. And they achieve such embrace via lyric bursts that are arresting, evocative, and profound.”
—Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree and The Noonday Demon