The Art of Mercy: New and Selected Poems by Robert L. Penick is the first book in the Beggar Poet Series. 

Robert L. Penick’s short, masterful poems have been showing up in small press magazines since the early 1990s. The Art of Mercy, his first full-length collection, contains excerpts from four chapbooks, as well as fifty-seven new and previously uncollected poems.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Penick is a true man of the streets, chronicling with clear-eyed sensitivity the ordinary lives of marginalized people, the elderly, the forgotten, the blue-collar workplace, the seductions of alcohol, and the heartbreak of failed relationships.

Written in a straightforward narrative style, with deft use of metaphor, these poems sneak up on you with understated dignity.

The 100 poems collected in The Art of Mercy represent the best of a long, quiet career in the poetry trenches.

“Robert L. Penick chronicles the secret sculptors, stillness, the barely noticed. He tosses knuckle balls directly at our heads, but they disappear, only to drop at our feet hours later…The Art of Mercy represents a brilliant body of work from a poet of exquisite insight, truthfulness and humility.”
Robert Okaji, author of Buddha's Not Talking

“Penick is gritty. Like the photographer who finds beauty in abandoned houses and cracked surfaces, his work makes the reader appreciate the sweat, dust, and failure we brush against, then turn our minds from. He is the tour guide of the ignored. He demands a broadening of our humanity and he does so with hope, precision, and humility.”
Cliff Wieck, author of Hagiography and Bestiary


The Beggar Poet Series is produced by Hohm Press in partnership with Shō Poetry Journal. It is named for seekers across world traditions who set out on the spiritual path with nothing but a begging bowl in hand and a driving thirst for the unnameable. Some of those beggars become poets. Just as some poets, in their sacred vocation, become beggars, standing empty before the muse and writing what is given.

For more information on the Beggar Poet Series, please visit shopoetryjournal.com

The Art of Mercy: New and Selected Poems