The Poetic Manifesto of the Populist-Nationalist Age
Elegant and traditional, MacKenzie's critically acclaimed Sonnets for Christ the King is lyric poetry in the grand manner—the poetic manifesto of the nationalist-populist era.
The only American to have won the Scottish International Poetry Competition, traditional lyric poet and Pushcart Prize nominee Joseph Charles MacKenzie and is considered a modern master of the English, or Shakespearean, sonnet. His verses have appeared in The New York Times, The Scotsman (Edinburgh), The Independent (London), the Society of Classical Poets (New York), and America’s most important review of classic poetry, Trinacria (New York).
The seventy-seven Sonnets for Christ the King form a lyrical sequence around the themes of love, death, and the passage of time. Referred to by top New York poetry editor and critic Dr. Joseph Salemi as ”a liturgically mediated conversation with God,” the critically-acclaimed collection is both extremely varied and perfectly contained. In addition to love poems, Salemi observes that there are also ”prayers, meditations, devout recollections of individual saints, scriptural and liturgical reminiscences, and even doctrinal argument…Indeed, the last fourteen sonnets in the sequence are meditative disquisitions on the Stations of the Cross.”
Rejecting the tired conventions of academic modernism characterizing today’s ”establishment poetry,” Joseph Charles MacKenzie composes ”in the grand manner” using timeless principles gleaned from the sonnet form’s 800 years of history. The Sonnets for Christ the King are also deeply personal, a reflection of the poet’s traditional Catholic faith handed down by his mother who was born and raised in Spanish New Mexico where MacKenzie has roots going back to the seventeenth century. The Sonnets for Christ the King are therefore an example, increasingly rare these days, of ”regional” or ”national” poetry, placing MacKenzie in the same arena as Ireland’s Seamus Heaney and Chile’s Pablo Neruda.