Book Review: In a Strange Land-Ten Kingdom Poets

by | Nov 20, 2019 | Book Reviews | 5 comments

The kingdom of God has been compared throughout the Gospels as everything from a pearl of great price, to a vineyard, a man going on a journey, a mustard seed, a field of wheat and many more.

And if the Kingdom of God had poets, which I’m sure it does, then you’d find their work in the slim volume “In a Strange Land-Introducing Ten Kingdom Poets” from Poiema Poetry Series (ed. DS Martin). Editor Martin explains the occasion of this printing, “This poetry collection gathers into one volume works by ten talented poets who…each (are) well deserving of having their own full-length poetry books, but as of April, 2019 have not quite reached that milestone.”

The Poiema (Greek for ‘a made thing’, or ‘workmanship’) Series is all about “providing a home for the finest poetry by people of Christian faith.”

Contributing poets include:

Bill Stadick
Burl Horniachek
 Debbie Sawczak
James Tughan
Jen Stewart Fueston
Laura Reece Hogan,
Mary Willis
Miho Nonaka
Ryan Apple
Susan Cowger

Until these writers each have their own books, you can find this poetic gathering  and enjoy all ten. The selections are rich and varied, as each writer renders from their own perspective a fuller vision of what God’s kingdom looks like. By turns amusing, descriptive, thoughtful and downright take-your-breath-away, we are handed a lens to view a particular version of faith experience as they see it.

This offering of each writer’s ‘walking around life’ (as Eugene Peterson has phrased it) includes poems about wildfires, the gift of children, taking communion, the depth of pregnancy loss, the Polar Vortex, learning the Lord’s prayer, a noisy crow’s message in the LA suburbs and much more.

(And for my readers who often tell me they don’t “get” poetry, I hope you’ll consider giving it a go.)

Here is some of what these ten kingdom writers see when they are walking around. And, since it is nearly impossible to choose a favorite, as I have so many poems circled and highlighted, I will give you two.

Living in a Secular Country   -Burl Horniachek

The only physical theories we accept are the beautiful ones.   -Albert Einstein

We live in a darkened world, an age when God’s

Discernible presence, like the slow but powerful bear,

Seems safely deposed to its arctic den.

Modern thought breeds materialism,

That dull song played on winter’s harp,

But clues to a coming spring abide:

None can answer how the mind’s small flower

Greens itself out from matter’s frozen turf,

Nor how beauty’s arrow flies, almost

Without fail, straight to the eye of truth.

I know that here, in this frozen land,

Eternal June shall play again its lusty theme.

God as Water   Susan Cowger*

Sometimes God is a pool

Where the cheeky swimmer dares to lie

On the surface     buoyant

An no one thinks a thing of it

When God rivers a careful wader deeper

No footings     no holds

But the kick-stream choke of an innocent falling in

Lungs conceding to rip-tide   broken teeth

And ragged questions bleed from the scrapes

Wounds ground into sand swell oh the swells

When God is ocean

Beauty and power that breaks

Every perfect shell

And shores its way into willful lungs until you know

God is flood

Infinite    unbound   weight over my head

And the unanswerable question



*Spacing is intentional. Line breaks are everything in poetry.

Happy Reading! In a Strange Land is available Here or wherever books are sold.



  1. Jody, I am so glad you singled out Susan’s brilliant work!

    • Indeed. I am so looking forward to her own book this Spring!

      • Her ms is extraordinary! You’re gonna love it:)

  2. I have to admit that I am one of those who do not naturally speak poetry 🙂 . . . but many in my family do. Their love of poetry is, if nothing else, teaching me that poetry is not too hard for me to get. I love how you keep exposing us to it. Exposure breeds familiarity 🙂

    • Oh, Amy.. if I can nudge anyone closer to find poetry a familiar genre, I am happy with that fruit!
      Thanks for reading and responding, friend.


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