About the Book
Songs of Seven Days is a reflection on the creation story of Genesis—from the separation of light and darkness to the divine time of rest and Shabbat. While often expressed in traditional poetic forms, the book unfolds as a sort of rabbinic midrash or commentary on each of the seven days of creation set out in the biblical narrative. With a generous dose of humor, Songs of Seven Days takes us on a voyage of discovery, examining creation as we discover it in the fields of astronomy, archeology, architecture, biology, geography, history, physics, psychology, and spirituality. This book invites us to examine our world anew, in a light that Abraham Joshua Heschel called “radical amazement.
About the Author
James R. Dennis is a poet, a novelist, and a Dominican friar. Along with two friends, he is the author of the Miles Arceneaux mystery novels. He has written two prior collections of poetry, Correspondence in D Minor and Listening Devices. In 2016, Correspondence in D Minor was selected as a finalist for the Julie Suk Award, and also named among the Best Books of the Year by the San Antonio Express-News. In 2023, Listening Devices received the International Book Award for Religious and Spiritual Poetry. He also writes and teaches on spiritual matters. James was born in West Texas, and now lives in San Antonio with his two ill-behaved dogs, Wallace and Yeats.
Praise for the Author
“Dennis alternates between stunning beauty and wry wit as he traces the elements of creation and our connection to each one. Songs of Seven Days is rendered in tender, thoughtful language that explores the physical and philosophical bonds of existence—its empty longing, and its unabashed joy. With this collection, Dennis is at his mischievous best—a barefoot child, grinning at the sky.”
Two-time Spur Award-winning author, James Wade, Beasts of the Earth
In Songs of Seven Days, James Dennis encompasses all creation, in poems that ask and watch and wonder. He maintains a balance between conversational and formal, always graceful in contemplations on the paradox of the rational miracle. Tracing creation and our fascinations, Dennis muses on shadow, stone, time and sky, with an openness, a humanity that keeps the holy mysterious, wondrous. So consistent is this vision that his “Shabat,” the book’s final poem ends with “Let us look upon / the world we once knew so well / with artless, childlike, and unwearied eyes.” I’d change that to “artful” in his perfect understanding of imperfection.
Jim LaVilla-Havelin, author of West, Poems of a Place and former poetry editor, San Antonio Express-News.
Reminiscent of Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver, James Dennis’s Songs of Seven Days is a wide-ranging and luminous meditation on Creation, faith, beauty, architecture, science, and love. These poems, filled with grace and hope, humor and wisdom, are both a comfort and a call to action. They will stay with me for a long time, and I’m thankful for the company.
Elizabeth Wetmore, author of Valentine and recipient of National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship
“James R. Dennis’s Songs of Seven Days is a book of light and questions. From West Texas to Ireland to the gates of Heaven itself, Dennis ranges and seeks, and sets his attention on answering the unanswerable, this ‘predicament we find ourselves in.'”
J. Bruce Fuller, author of How to Drown a Boy, director at Texas Review Press
In his new collection, Songs of Seven Days, James Dennis lifts us into a kind of holiness. I’m speaking here about the relationship words can forge with each other, which, for me, is a sacred thing. These poems are exquisite in their design and execution. The thinking behind these words is profound. Dennis lays out the fine points of creation, living, and love with a deft hand. Songs of Seven Days is a book you’ll delight in reading. And then you’ll ponder it. And then you’ll revisit it again and again.
W.K. Stratton, author of the Western Heritage Award-winning Last Red Dirt Embrace and the Los Angeles Times bestseller The Wild Bunch.
“Part astronomy lesson, part atlas, part bestiary, part prayer, Songs of Seven Days is at heart a reflection on the unreachable and the unknowable, most often encountered at the numinous place that James Dennis calls—in one of his memorable plain-spoken lines— “the intersection of desire and hope.”
Stephen Harrigan, author of The Leopard Is Loose, winner of Texas Medal of the Arts
A poetic tour de force! In these poems, James R. Dennis transports his readers to precisely the times, places, and mindsets of precisely where he wants us to go. His writing is accessible, descriptive, and evocative as we journey through the Genesis creation story of heavens and the earth—and the blobfish. Sometimes outright funny, sometimes hard-hitting, this is poetry for deep dives and ethereal ascents.
Kristine Hall, editor and publisher, Lone Star Literary Life