“Personally, I know little about God, whoever he is. If he is. I realize, however, that to some, he’s downright awesome. From Gram’s description, I picture him like a raptor with a sky’s wingspan, exhaling love’s oxygen on his hatchlings, feeding them comfort and truth and power straight from his beak.” -Sugar Birds, Cheryl Bostrom I haven’t stayed up until midnight to read a book … Continue reading Sugar Birds by Cheryl Grey Bostrom
Susan Cowger confesses she was the ‘black sheep’ in the family, not quite fitting into the mold of family vocations–nurses, pharmacists, sensible people. Instead, her first language was art, a calling that led to a BA in Fine Art (1977) from Montana State University and subsequent MFA in Poetry with a secondary emphasis in Art from Eastern Washington University in 1997. Susan is a sculptor, … Continue reading Female Faith Poet-Susan Cowger
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:
Jen Stewart Fueston
Laura Reece Hogan,
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.
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4 NIV
Two weeks ago I took my first ever trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to attend the Festival of Faith and Writing, a gathering for Christian writers, bloggers, authors and poets at Calvin College. One speaker in particular that I hoped to connect with was the powerhouse that is Leslie Leyland Fields.
In real life Leslie lives with her family in Kodiak, Alaska, where they own a commercial fishing business. In the summer she leads writing retreats on a remote island that you only get to by bush plane. She has also managed over the years to raise her children, to write and teach workshops, to speak and inspire people around the world. Her life and work always point to Jesus.
Leslie just turned 60but has the power and energy of someone much, much younger. I think she’d credit Jesus for a lot of that energy, but she also is blessed with kindness, graciousness and humility, all rare commodities these days.
Leslie took on a book project several years back as she was heading into the other side of 50–gathering women from all arenas and stages of life to talk about aging. She was looking for voices of women over 40. And 50. And 60. And 70. Luci Shaw, the oldest contributor, will be 90 this year. That immense undertaking became “The Wonder Years–40 Women Over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty and Strength” (Kregel Publications).
Aging is not for the thin-boned or the faint of heart. As we climb year by year, whether it’s a mountain or a ladder, we need to stop for a long moment and consider the view. We need to ask questions. Maybe we should even check our ladder. Leslie Leyland Fields
As I head into my 66th year this August,I am aware of the need for the world to hear from women of a certain age, writers and speakers who are sometimes overlooked. Where is a book that talks about aging gracefully that isn’t about face lifts and beauty products? We need the voices of older Christian women who can be examples of what to do (or give warnings about what n o t to do) as we walk this road of life with Jesus.
Leslie noticed this, too.
“Maybe we older women just want to be seen again,” she writes in the Introduction. I would concur. We have wisdom, experience and perspective, life lessons to offer those who will listen. We’ve also discovered that gravity is not the kindest force in the universe, which is why Leslie bought a leopard print push up bra when she turned 50. (More on that later.)
I met Leslie at the book launch party for The Wonder Years (photo of the readers group above) and told her I’d write a little something about the book. I sent 5 questions to ‘interview’ her in this space and she typed me back her answers. From Slovakia! After she’d been without her luggage for 5 days…After she’d been to South Africa. See what I mean? Persistent powerhouse.
“What if there were no poetry? What if all life were prose?
Some people wouldn’t mind. One friend told me her son didn’t know how to do imaginative play. He lined up his action figures and then shrugged and walked away. He didn’t know what else to do. Poetry gives you an idea of what to do, or at least the idea that something more can be done.”
Megan Willome, “The Joy of Poetry” p. 138
When I mention to people that I’m reading a book of poetrythe response is often, “I’m not into poetry. I just don’t get it.”
If I tell them I WRITE poetry, they look at me as if I said I ate blue crayons for breakfast and quickly change the subject.
I just finished reading Megan Willome’s user-friendly volume“The Joy of Poetry” (TSPoetry Press) and I can say with confidence—this book introduces poetry in a way that will make you swear off eating crayons forever—and might entice you towards a richer life of reading what you’ve been missing all this time.
The next to last chapter is my favorite, aptly titled, “Why Poetry?” Willome (pronounced, ‘willow-me’) illuminates the answers to this question beautifully. Here are the reasons that spoke to me (in no particular order):
1)Why poetry? For Kinship—when a writer shines a light on something that speaks to you, there is a connection, an ‘aha! I get that’ feeling. Poets, in their succinct style, pack a lot of meaning into fewer words; many of those words go straight to our heart.
Illustration: Willome weaves the story of her mother’s very long bout with cancer and the last years of her life struggling with the disease. Megan and Merry Nell’s relationship was not all sweetness and light during this time; I can relate. My own mother died of cancer very young (55, I was only 33) and we also had some rough edges in the way we related to each other in her last few years.
Two lines in Megan’s poem ‘Blue Moon’ are underlined and circled in my book:
“we talk as only mothers and daughters can—
Speech as rocky as the lunar surface.”
There’s a kinship woven into those words.
2)Why poetry? For Delight—Certainly you’ve read Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” or something by Shel Silverstein? These delight in their nonsensicality (yes, I made that up). Willome mentions a yoga class and a discovery of the delight of ‘poetry’ in her instructor’s directions as she uses metaphors to illustrate different poses. There are so many poems I’ve read that just plain leave me smiling—they’re accessible, readable, relatable, beautiful. Poems can delight us in simple ways.
Laurie Klein and I first met online after I’d been following her work in print for a number of years. We share a common decade and a love of poetry and song. I then discovered she was blogging and we’ve been corresponding ever since.
Laurie is the author of the prize-winning chapbook ‘Bodies of Water, Bodies of Flesh’ and the classic praise chorus ”I Love You, Lord.” Her poems and prose have appeared in many publications, including Ascent, The Southern Review, Atlanta Review, Terrain, and the Holman Personal Worship Bible. She is a recipient of the Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred. Her most recent release in the Poemia Poetry Series from Cascade Books is “Where the Sky Opens.”
I reached out to Laurie for an online Interview and she graciously agreed. Below is our conversation. (For more poet interviews & book reviews here on the blog, click HERE.)
1) Tell me about your writing path–how did it lead you to where you are today?
Twenty years ago, sadness launched my writing path; death and depression arrived, pushing me on my journey. Losing my dad in 1996 propelled me into journaling, then poetry. There was lots of baggage to sort through. Literally everyone in my family died, except for my sister, who beat breast cancer, twice.
But here’s the godsend: Two friends with MFAs mentored me, in poetry and prose during that time. Eventually, we co-founded a print litmag called Rock & Sling: A Journal of Literature, Art and Faithand ran it against all odds for five years.
2) Have you had any other ‘careers’ other than writer? or perhaps some that dovetailed with that vocation?
I feel outrageously lucky in the work opportunities I’ve enjoyed. Former jobs fed my word banks, my ‘image archives.’
Teacher: I taught in preschools, then as a Theatre Arts adjunct at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, never suspecting commonalities between these age groups.
Freelance Professional Storyteller: I performed in schools, churches, community centers, writer’s conferences, and retreats, in the States as well as Thailand, England, and Germany.
Program Director at Calvary Chapel: Remember Deborah of old, who had “a heart for the willing volunteers”? I loved directing and wrote drama sketches our creative team synced with thematic music and stage sets. Several full-length musicals followed.
Audiobook Narrator: I’ve narrated fifty or so books. When I undertook Theatre Arts study, I wanted the skills to play 100 characters. I never meant all at one time! Some novels call for that many voices. (TIP: novelists, reign in your cast if you want publication in this arena.)
Singer/songwriter and itinerant Worship Leader: My husband, Bill, and I shared this work for three decades. Four recording projects emerged from that wonderful season of life.