Is there a better way to capture the nuances of love than through the timeless art of poetry?

In her most recent collection of poems, Lovers’ Almanac, (Wipf & Stock, 2015) Angela Alaimo O’Donnell explores the many forms of love humans experience from birth to death: familial love, divine love, romantic love, and the passion of artists and heroes.

Lovers-AlmanacLovers’ Almanac begins with a 12-poem sonnet sequence. A dialog between a man and woman, each poem represents one month of the year.

“Each of the months and seasons reflect different phases of their love,” explained O’Donnell, who a lecturer of English, creative writing, and American Catholic studies at Fordham and is associate director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies.

What inspired a book about love?

“I spent several years writing about death,” O’Donnell said, referring to Mortal Blessings (Ave Maria Press, 2014) and Waking my Mother (Word Press, 2013), a book of prose and a collection of elegies, both inspired by her mother’s illness and death six years ago. “I’m tired of poems about grief. I wanted to get this train going on another track.”

The poem “On Botticelli’s Annunciation” explores divine love, through the lens of the artist in his famous painting of the angel who visits Mary on behalf of God.

Angela200“I love the physicality,” O’Donnell said, referring to the painter’s vision of the angel and of Mary. “How bold of Botticelli to use these figures to tell the story of how the incarnation came to be.”

“Putting my sons on my C.V.,” takes a more whimsical look at the deep love and attachment a parent has for her children, while “Unfallen” explores the obsessive love an artist has for his work. The poem is about Philippe Petit who walked on a tightrope between the Twin Towers in 1974.

“This is a good example of a person who has a passion for his art that is so great that he is willing to do insane things!” O’Donnell said. “Petit’s love for his art is incredible. His walk was an act of love and an act of faith.”

O’Donnell’s works include Saint Sinatra and Other Poems and Flannery O’Connor: Fiction Fired by Faith, among others. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including America, Christian Century, Comstock Poetry Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Potomac Review, Vineyards, Windhover, and Xavier Review, and have been nominated for several awards.

—Claire Curry


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.