INTERVIEW with Saints Poet Jamie Agnello

Readers earlier this week were introduced to an online treasure of truly unique poems on the saints that spanned a one-year period, from late 2009, through 2010. I reached out to the author, Jamie Agnello, and here is what she told me about why she did the project and what inspired her:

While I was studying in the MFA in poetry program at Sarah Lawrence College, I was inspired to tackle a poem-a-day project. After thinking long and hard about what subject to delve into, I looked at my poems that I had been writing of recent and noticed that the saints kept popping up…so why not dedicate a project to them?

As a child in Catholic school, I loved the saints and found myself endlessly fascinated with them. My mother is also very interested in them as well and my childhood home is full of paintings and figurines of the saints that we’ve inherited and/or rescued from thrift stores over the years.

The saints have always played a central role in my ideas of storytelling and I’m very happy to share my interpretations of their histories through my poetry. When sharing these poems with others in workshops at Sarah Lawrence, the majority of my audience was not familiar with the saints, so it became a process of sharing a tradition with others, or an opening up of my own history. I had kept my favorite stories of the saints in my memory for years, and it was a labor of love to share part of myself with others.

Here’s an update on what Jaime is doing now: Jaime has since graduated from Sarah Lawrence with MFAs in poetry and theater. She currently lives in Brooklyn and will be appearing as a performer and puppeteer in Double Aspect: Bright and Fair (directed by Dan Hurlin) as part of the Soulographie Series by Eric Ehn at the American Dance Institute in Washington, DC and LaMaMa in New York. Ehn, incidentally, is the author of The Saints Plays; check out the description on Amazon here.

As for Jaime and her poems on the saints, she says she “would love to pursue the project further.”

Stephen Beale

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Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Raised as an evangelical Protestant, he is a convert to Catholicism. He is a former news editor at GoLocalProv.com and was a correspondent for the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he covered the 2008 presidential primary. He has appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN and the Today Show and his writing has been published in the Washington Times, Providence Journal, the National Catholic Register and on MSNBC.com and ABCNews.com. A native of Topsfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Brown University in 2004 with a degree in classics and history. His areas of interest include Eastern Christianity, Marian and Eucharistic theology, medieval history, and the saints. He welcomes tips, suggestions, and any other feedback at bealenews at gmail dot com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/StephenBeale1

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