The Road to Emmaus Poems

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 3/31/2015
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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Longlisted for the National Book Award

A moving, subtle sequence of narrative poems, from a sharp new poetic voice

Two strangers walk toward Emmaus. Christ has just been crucified, and they are heartbroken—until a third man joins them on the road and comforts them. Once they reach Emmaus and break bread, the pair realizes they have been walking with Christ himself. But in the moment they recognize him, he disappears. Spencer Reece draws on this tender story in his mesmerizing collection—one that fearlessly confronts love and its loss, despair and its consolation, and faith in all of its various guises.

Reece's central figure in The Road to Emmaus is a middle-aged man who becomes a priest in the Episcopal Church; these poems follow him to New York City, to Honduras, to a hospital where he works as a chaplain, to a prison, to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. With language of simple, lyrical beauty that gradually accrues weight and momentum, Reece spins compelling dramas out of small moments: the speaker, living among a group of orphans, wondering "Was it true, what they said, that a priest is a house lit up?"; two men finding each other at a Coming Out Group; a man trying to become visible after a life that had depended on not being seen.

A yearning for connection, an ache of loneliness, and the instant of love disappearing before our eyes haunt this long-awaited second collection from Spencer Reece.

Author Biography

Spencer Reece is a poet and priest; his first collection, The Clerk’s Tale, won the Bakeless Prize in 2003. He has received an NEA grant, a Guggenheim grant, the Witter Bynner Prize from the Library Congress, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and the Amy Lowell Travelling Scholarship. His poems have been published in The New Yorker, Poetry, The American Scholar, and The New Republic. He served at the Honduran orphanage Our Little Roses, and as the chaplain to the Bishop of Spain for the Reformed Episcopal Church, Iglesia Española Reformada Episcopal. Currently he is completing a book of prose, The Little Entrance, about his decision to become a priest in middle age.

Table of Contents


The Manhattan Project


The Fifth Commandment


At Thomas Merton’s Grave


1 Corinthians 13

The Road to Emmaus

The Prodigal Son


12:20 in New York

A Few Tender Minutes

Among Schoolchildren

The Poor

My Great Grandmother’s Bible

The Upper Room


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