The seventy-seven Sonnets for Christ the King form a lyrical sequence around the traditional themes of love death and the passage of time but within the context of a divinely ordered cosmos. Referred to by top New York poetry editor and critic Dr. Joseph Salemi as "a liturgically mediated conversation with God " the sequence 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 prefers to compose "in the grand manner" using timeless principles of composition gleaned from the sonnet form's 800 years of history. For his mastery of the English sonnet MacKenzie became the only American to win the Scottish International Open Poetry Competition as noted in a recent article in the Times Literary Supplement (London). But for all their beauty and refinement 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.
I am New Mexico's second poeta lyrico or traditional lyric poet the successor of Fray Angelico Chavez a Franciscan priest poet and polymath whose work has blazed a trail for my own. While my British colleagues consider me a poet of the Scottish diaspora I also possess my mother's Spanish and French background.
At St. John's College I obtained my B.A. in Literae Humaniores after completing the famous Great Books Program.
I obtained my M.A. in French Studies with a minor in Italian at the University of New Mexico where I had studied classic verse with Monsieur Roger Guichemerre and literary history with Madame Claude-Marie Senninger both of the University of Paris (Sorbonne). The French Ministry of Culture subsequently hired me to teach English in a traditional French lycée.
After advancing to the degree of theologian I left the religious life and subsequently married the beautiful Lady of the Sonnets who has inspired all the love poems to be found in the Sonnets for Christ the King.
"Sonnets for Christ the King is a remarkably accomplished and aesthetically polished work&hellipMacKenzie is as necessary to us as is air to a suffocating man&hellip" -DR. JOSEPH SALEMI New York University and Hunter College Editor Trinacria poetry review.
"&hellipsome of the best sonnets and so poetry published since World War II&hellipthis is major poetry by a major poet." -JAMES SALE Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts poet author and critic.
"The distinctive qualities this poet shows are truly remarkable!" -SAMUEL GILLILAND Scottish bard and lyric poet Winner of the MacDiarmid Tassie.