Catholic Church in Fascauka Belarus

Notes on "The Allure of Churches" from issue 299.3

Chad Davidson

800px-Hitterdals_kirke_fra_nedre_Thellemarken041“The Allure of Churches” came from having written about Italy (and specifically its fine churches) for years. I knew before I started that one, however, that I wanted it to be absurdly short for its title. One imagines the allure of churches—for both believers and nonbelievers—as quite complicated and worthy of detailed explanation. This one I imagined comically short. I also deployed metaphors that seemed wildly out of context for the solemnity of church going: dorm rooms, Great Danes, roller coasters, Detroit. Looking at it again now, I see that almost inexplicable wonder in churches, as Philip Larkin did. I don’t believe, as Philip Larkin didn’t. In fact, I have grown to see most any church not as some monument to God’s grace and all that but rather as a monument to the ambitions of the rich and powerful. Churches, it’s nothing new, are also symbols of oppression and enslavement.

Still, the thrill one gets walking into a Saint Ignatius in Rome or a Saint Mark’s in Venice: it’s not unlike that first plunge of a roller coaster. No need to prolong the sensation. It’s ephemeral, precisely so we keep seeking it out. Like a short poem. I might also have added to the irony by later retitling it “The Churches of Italy” for my book From the Fire Hills.

Chad Davidson

Chad Davidson’s most recent collection of poems is From the Fire Hills (Southern Illinois UP, 2014). His other books include The Last Predicta (2008) and Consolation Miracle (both on Southern Illinois), as well as the co-authored texts Analyze Anything: A Guide to Critical Reading and Writing (Continuum, 2012) and Writing Poetry: Creative and Critical Approaches (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2009). He is professor of English and creative writing at the University of West Georgia near Atlanta and directs the Writers’ Collaborative in Postignano, Italy, each summer. Chad Davidson's poem "The Allure of Churches" can be found in the North American Review, issue 299.3, Summer 2014. For moreb information; or chaddavidson.meitaly.