“I Am From”–An Interview & Poem

I recently had a chance (in the middle of the cacophony of home renovations) to chat with fellow writer Alyson Shelton who invited me to join her Instagram Live series sharing an “I Am From”  poem. “I Am From” poems originated with writer George Ella Lyon**, a poet and teacher in her home state of Kentucky. The text of my poem is below.  But for … Continue reading “I Am From”–An Interview & Poem

Gilt Gift {a #poem}

Sometimes I guilt myself right out of joy. Like the surprise of an iridescent butterfly from an unsightly cocoon, who would expect this shimmering show in morning sunlight? Eyes are trained on Northwest firs framed in blue, frosted feeders, feathered presents hidden among the trees. I’ve held my breath, wondering. Did my mother ever ponder stilling herself, take a moment with the birds in her … Continue reading Gilt Gift {a #poem}

Female Faith Poet-Phillis Wheatley

phyllis wheatley
From Poetry Foundation online

 

Several years ago in a biography of preacher and evangelist Jonathan Edwards, I read the name of  “slave poet” Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784). Wheatley wrote an elegy (poem on the occasion of one’s death) for George Whitefield, one of Jonathan Edwards’ dear friends. Whitefield and Edwards were pillars of the Great Awakening that swept the world from England to the United States in the 1700’s and Wheatley had been greatly affected by the move of God in her own life. In fact, much of her strong Christian faith shows up in her poems, which I soon found out when I went looking.
What’s astonishing to me is the language and voice of Wheatley’s work. She was brought to America from Senegal/Gambia at the age of 7 and purchased by a family in Boston to purportedly “accompany the family’s children and share in domestic work.” As a result, she inadvertently was taught to read and write, receiving a stellar classical education alongside the children, something unheard for a slave. She read widely the literature and early works of Virgil and Ovid, John Milton and Shakespeare, and the style of her writing reflects this classical immersion.
The more I read the more surprised I was, assuming that all African slaves in the 1700’s were illtreated and illiterate. Thanks to my Sophomore English teacher, Dr. Kehl, I learned to love the language and style of Shakespeare’s writing (though I often needed assistance in deciphering his meaning.) When I first became a Christian I enjoyed the King James Version of the Bible for just that reason. Reading Wheatley’s poetry was like reading Shakespeare and I was drawn in.
Thanks to her owners and their wide circles in Boston society Wheatley’s work was known and shared widely in Boston and across the Atlantic. Her first published poem was printed when she was only 13 and she went on to write many, many more. Mary Wheatley, Phillis’ benefactress, saw to it that bookseller Archibald Bell begin to circulate Phillis’ work, and the debut edition of Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was published in 1773. Poems on Various Subjects was the first volume of poetry by an American Negro published in modern times. Its readers included notables like Benjamin Franklin, among others and was well received and widely supported.

Continue reading “Female Faith Poet-Phillis Wheatley”

The Next Best Yes {a #poem}

  Now Let  And  Yet How can the power of my surrender be wrapped up in three slight letters? A mix of mercy in a single syllable? And yet. Placed just so, like fine crystal refracting evening sun into shards  of light, they precede each sentence, illuming my way to the next best yes. *** I’m grateful to Jesus, who is eternal and an all-at-once … Continue reading The Next Best Yes {a #poem}

Dayspring From on High {a #poem}

  The Christ, as yet unchristened. The Word as yet unspoken. So His Mother announced instead, He has performed mighty deeds with  His arm; He has scattered those who are proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things But has sent the rich away empty. … Continue reading Dayspring From on High {a #poem}

Silence Ascends, Sunday {a #poem}

There’s a lot one can say      about the power of being       quiet (yes, I see the irony). When listening forefronts the mind      other senses muscle their       way into place (the ears above      all) take in the not-words      simply song, hum and tone      in counterpoint. No addition necessary; I am     … Continue reading Silence Ascends, Sunday {a #poem}

Home-A Poem in Three Parts

Beginning Years and miles evaporate like the morning’s ocean fog where the strong, bright gleam of friendship holds true. Holds true like trees that have weathered decades of sun as we weathered our own wearying waves of life, lapping at the edge of our friendship, threatening to erode the years of tears and laughter, the breaking in between. In between we hold on, reach out past … Continue reading Home-A Poem in Three Parts

To the Tune of ‘Lilies’, {a #poem}

There is a song in petals, the rainsound of notes on thirsty earth feeding spring’s new flowers. There is a melody in the making of a garden where silent, shriveled seeds wait to burst, pushing through wet soil with their magic strength inside. There is a harmony in the golden leafwhisper and silent shout of green dusting the tips of dogwood and rose, tulip, lilac, … Continue reading To the Tune of ‘Lilies’, {a #poem}

Writer’s Break {a #poem}

I’ve been awash in words of late, missing out on the wind waving through steel branches, blue and white sky. Eyes too crowded to take note of the weather which goes on without me, whether I watch it or not. A glance through the dining room glass speaks loudly in all caps. I am listening. “There is no earth-changing work worth writing that can compare … Continue reading Writer’s Break {a #poem}