At the heart of human existence lie fundamental questions that are pondered by philosophers, theologians, poets and thoughtful people from all walks of life. What is the meaning of life? Who or what is a divine being? How can a benevolent deity justify human suffering? Such questions are especially relevant to our lives in the current climate of American society. In Vespers: American Poems of Religion and Spirituality, editors Virgil Suárez and Ryan G. Van Cleave offer the reading world a timely anthology of powerful and passionate poems that cut to the heart of our contemporary theological and spiritual underpinnings.

Featuring fifty of today's most respected American poets, including Pulitzer Prize winners Stephen Dunn and Carolyn Kizer, Vespers allows us to witness and understand the challenging ideas and philosophies surrounding religion and spirituality. Through these poems, we can come to a better understanding of who, what, and why we are.

From deathbed spirituals to initiation songs, transformative ballads to transcendent sonnets, poets of myriad backgrounds—Native American, African American, Asian American, Latino, Protestant, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish—echo the thoughts, concerns, and fears that linger in our souls. Their poems help us realize that we are not alone, that we're never truly alone, that even in the face of darkness the world is vibrant, beautiful, joyous.

More than a creative exploration of theological concerns—Vespers is a roadmap of where we've been, where we are, and where we are heading in terms of our spiritual and religious existence. It will keep you company, good company, whatever your religious or spiritual background.


David Baker
Bruce Bond
Maxine Chernoff
Martha Collins
Robert Dana
Martín Espada
Reginald Gibbons
Susan Hahn
George Kalamaras
Li-Young Lee
Peter Meinke
Linda Pastan
Ricardo Pau-Llosa
Hilda Raz
Martha Serpas
Mark Turcotte
Bronislava Volková
Charles Harper Webb
and many more

“With more than fifty poets in the compilation, Pulitzer Prize winners Stephen Dunn and Carolyn Kizer, and NEA Director Dana Gioia among them, the book boasts an eclectic mix of institutional religin and homegrown spirituality without ever privileging a particular viewpoint. . . . Certainly, [Vespers] may come to many purposes whether it be comfort, exploration, or confirmation of belief. It also provides a historical document, charting the place of religion in American culture as the country and its artists move from the twentieth century to the troubling twenty-first.”—ForeWord Magazine

Retail price

Publication Details

Publication Date
Pages, art, trim size
178 pages