Faith, irony, and poetic form are at the centre of Fear Not, Maurice Mierau’s new book of poems. The phrase “Fear Not” appears 80 times in the Bible, so it is more than an apt title for a collection inspired by the Gideon New Testament & Psalms. This book is lyrical, political, raunchy, blasphemous, and deeply engaged with ethical questions.
Ranging in subject from suicide to divorce, unemployment to gratitude, Afghanistan to Gethsemane, Fear Not attempts consolation, all the while mocking its own failure to lessen human pain.
Using the Gideon Bible’s list of self-help topics, each poem is arranged to play off poetic and Biblical forms. Mierau also surveys contemporary culture, skewering our intense involvement with pop phenomena such as America’s Next Top Model and Britney Spears. He recalls the formal beauty of the Psalms with refrains that echo the commercial speech used to advertise iPods, Kahlua, and Cialis.
“In Fear Not, Maurice Mierau boldly disturbs and draws from The Gideon Bible; the result is a magnificent achievement, a palimpsest at once steeped in irony and starkly tender, profane and sacred, ancient and relentlessly contemporary. With its formal innovations and haunting echoes, this is rare and necessary poetry for our time, for the skeptics and the faithful alike.” —Barbara Nickel, author of Domain