Bending The Arch


by Rose Marie Berger
FOREWORD by Dana Greene
COVER ART by Brett Busang

Interview and press kit.

In answer to Seamus Heaney’s Station Island and Pablo Neruda’s The Heights of Machu Picchu, Berger unmasks the worldview of westward expansion from architect Eero Saarinen’s arch in St. Louis to the Golden Gate in a way that subtly and mystically taps the unconsciousness of the intended audience. When she writes “We never entered the West on bended knee,” the impurity of language used in this epic creates tension between discourses and creates a charge or pressure on each sentence that pushes the reader toward declaring an allegiance. Drawing on historical documents, the Latin Mass, and multivalent voices, Berger moves through the anguish of unintended consequences and leads the reader through the “ghost dance” of feeling to the powerful Pacific Ocean, which enters human consciousness like a dream. Entangled historical memory, climate crisis, and inverse expansionism compress into a spiritual reckoning to face the world to come. (January 2019)

STUDY MATERIALS for Bending the Arch: Poems
Bending the Arch for group study. This poetry collection is ideal for group reflection and discussion.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Rose Berger is doing poetic alchemy in her new book, Bending The Arch. She does it right before us. She is mixing vision with insight, words with symbol, and hope with common sense . . . and coming up with gold.”–Steven Charleston (Choctaw), Native American elder, author, and retired Episcopal Bishop of Alaska

“The beauty and brilliance of these poems sprawls out in their depth and mystery. They call for effort and struggle. They also demand confession and repentance.”–Tommy Airey, Geez (Spring 2019)

“In St. Louis for a baptism during the great flood of 1993 (both themes prominent in these poems), Berger looked through Saarinen’s Arch and saw all the way to the Farallon Islands. . . . This is ‘decolonizing poetry’: literate, theologically rich, and densely annotated.”–Ched Myers, Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries

“This book is a beautiful, moving, challenging read, a poetry at once personal, historical, spiritual, and political. Drawing in voices from all of these facets of knowing, Berger creates a truly visionary text, one that feels like a discovery, a codex, and returns to the reader by its conclusion both responsibility and power. Berger’s Bending the Arch is extraordinary in both its lyric power and intellectual reach.”–Linda McCarriston, poet, and professor in the Department of Creative Writing and Literature, University of Alaska Anchorage

“How do we look back on the glorious past, once we realize it is not so glorious? In this important book, Rose Marie Berger looks imaginatively west through Saarinen’s Arch in St. Louis and into America’s past.”–D.S. Martin, Poet-in-Residence, McMaster Divinity College, and author of Ampersand

Bending the Arch is an epic poem about settling the West from the view of native peoples. Several pages are devoted to Rose Marie Berger’s Sullivan/Gingrich ancestors who settled near Riverton, Neb. Many individuals are familiar with the Gingrich and Sullivan names around the Riverton area. Some of the Gingrich family members homesteaded in Smith County, Kan., while others settled in the Riverton area, farming south of Riverton for approximately 60 years. …”–Evone Naden, Editor, Franklin County (NE) Chronicle (20 March 2019)



  1. Rose Marie, I enjoyed ” Bending The Arch Poems”. What a beautiful and different way to express the past to where we are now . The ending ” VII .” was the final impact of driving the nail of understanding all the way in.

    I am Mary Jane’s husband Buzz Sommers. John was kind enough to send us a copy .


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