Presenter of the National Book Awards

2014 National Book Award Longlist, Poetry


The Road to Emmaus by Spencer Reece Spencer Reece The Road to Emmaus

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 978-0374280857


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 to confront 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 in this sequence of narrative poems.


Spencer Reece is an Episcopal priest. His first poetry collection, The Clerk’s Tale, won the Bakeless Prize in 2003. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Guggenheim fellowship, the Witter Bynner Prize from the Library of Congress, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and the Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship. His poems have been published in The New Yorker, Poetry, The American Scholar, and The New Republic. Last year, he served as the chaplain to the Bishop of Spain for the Reformed Episcopal Church, La 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.