Who is James Matthew Wilson? Dana Gioia Speaks

From the editors:

Our present to you this Lent is to publish a series of poems by James Matthew Wilson. They commemorate The Mass of the Americas and are inspired, as James wrote in First Things, by his childhood sense of America as a Catholic country.  He doesn’t mean, of course, that America is only a Catholic country.  But the Catholic roots of this country run very deep and include many underappreciated heroes.  He calls this song cycle “The River of the Immaculate Conception.”  That river is known by its official name: The Mississippi River. Yet early on, Jesuit missionaries consecrated it to Our Lady.  Purchase the book of poems at

We are very proud and excited to give you this gift. James Matthew Wilson is not just a good poet. He is one of our finest rising Catholic artists and intellectuals. 

You don’t have to believe us.  Believe Dana Gioia on the video below:

“James Matthew Wilson is the most conspicuously talented young poet-critic in American Catholic letters…When you hear James’s work, you’re hearing the kind of tradition that’s in Anthony Hecht, Robert lowerll, William Butler Yeats. Certainly this new poem, it’s as if James has set down in this new work with a great organ keyboard and he’s decided he’s going to play every key, he’s going to pull out every stop in the course of creating this new poem each of the sections of which is in a different form, a different line length, a different rhyme scheme, a different perspective; and it’s an incredibly difficult act to bring off because at every moment you’re taking risks. But I think that it is a successful and exciting work. You know there is, at the moment, an exciting rebirth of Catholic poetry in the United States and it’s full of talented young writers but even in this interesting cohort James Matthew Wilson, I think, is one of the leading people that you are really going to watch in the future.”  Dana Gioia


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