I first encountered Angela Alaimo O’Donnell through the Tweetspeak Poetry blog. She’d written a beautiful post about memory and language and poetry. Every once in awhile, she’d write another post for Tweetspeak, and I’d read it and be amazed by her way with words.
Then—oh happy day!—I learned she had a book forthcoming. I immediately pre-ordered it at my local bookstore.
Last month, I held it in my hands for the first time. Called The Province of Joy: Praying with Flannery O’Connor, it’s a physically beautiful book: a peacock feather graces the front, its deep blue and iridescent green eye staring out from the top of the cover.
When the clerk at the bookstore unveiled it from under its pre-order slip, she stopped in the act of handing it to me and looked at it again. “What a lovely book!”
“Yes,” I said as she placed it in my hands.
I wanted to make conversation, maybe mention that we’d just seen a peacock at the zoo, that my son Jack had hung out for half an hour, watching it and waiting for one of its feathers to fall out, or tell her how I’d told Jack and his sister that Flannery O’Connor kept peacocks and peahens and how we’d gone home and looked the peahens up online to see what they looked like.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I was already absorbed in the book’s table of contents, turning the pages slowly, savoring the physical beauty of the book and the intellectual beauty of the words…