Have you ever noticed when you have a conversation about poetry, the usual response is, “I just don’t get poetry,” as if there was some secret, codified way that words arranged themselves and only an initiated, select group of people can really understand it. Hence, not many folks read poetry.
I’m here to change that with my new book, “Hearts on Pilgrimage.”
In the beginning of this year I started gathering poems into a manuscript with the goal of self-publishing them. After I had my first draft ready, I sent the collection off to an Editor. Many, many months later….thanks to covid-19 delays and whatnot, I am now on to second edits and will be sending her back my revisions soon. The Preface is practically perfect, I’ve chosen a cover from a lovely watercolor by Laura Winslow(above) and the next step is to reach out to a book designer and write The Acknowledgments.
A Little About the Poems (from The Preface)
The title “Hearts on Pilgrimage” came from a poem by George Herbert and this passage, which had been rolling around in my head for many years. The poems sort of organized themselves around the theme of a journey through the seasons of the year, much like our lives. I was thrilled to see there was a guiding framework that echoed throughout the work. Beginning with Winter and moving through Spring into Summer and Fall, the book reflects the circle of seasons in the church calendar as well.
The poems are mostly pastoral in nature and I write a good deal about nature, birds, my garden, the way light lands on my kitchen counter or the quiet mornings of coffee in the kitchen. I also deal with the difficulties of death and loss through the lens of God’s faithfulness and presence. It’s important to pay attention to beauty, notice the sky and birds and the trees, the reflection in a puddle, the sound of water–all the ways that God speaks to us without words.
As to form, most of the poems in “Hearts on Pilgrimage” are free verse, but I also play with rhyme and meter a bit, which was a delight to try. George MacDonald’s offerings in Diary of an Old Soul provide inspiration for the cycle of five seven-line poems included. There are also a few sonnets, written in a very loose form, patterning my attempts after others whose work I admire. Initially intimidated by the constraints of the pattern, I was surprised at the freedom provided in writing within prescribed boundaries.
Readers can peruse the work through the year as it is written, or match it to the season they find themselves in currently (literal or figurative.) My prayer for the book is not only that people learn to fall in love with poetry for the first time, but also that they would find an echo of our Creator’s voice as they journey on their own path.
Publishing a book of poetry in this current decade, noticing life around us and pointing out the good, true and beautiful seems a fruitless endeavor in the midst of challenges and heartache. But we will always have trouble and sorrow with us. While we live in a fallen world, we live with a risen Savior; the invisible Kingdom of God is there for the seeing. All we need be aware of is His presence and the beauty around us in every season.
Here’s How You can Help
Although I’ve been through this process before, anyone who’s written a book via traditional publishing or self-publishing will tell you–writing a book is easy (sort of!). The hard part? Getting people to find it and read it–t h a t requires an army of people and no end of time and energy. After I wrote my first book, I was blown away by the over 450 readers who found my Christmas book “Living the Season Well-Reclaiming Christmas” to be a welcome addition to their bookshelves. Many people said it was inspiring and helpful and best of all, they told their friends about it.
Which is where you come in.
I am putting together a book launch team and I would love your help to spread the word and tell your friends. If you would like to be part of the gathered ones helping to make the world safe for poetry, just click on the link HERE.I treasure each and every one of you Dear Readers, and look forward to sharing “Hearts on Pilgrimage” with the world.
Now that I'm retired from 25 years of elementary teaching, I am able to spend time in my happy place--at my desk where I read and write as often as I can.
When I'm not at my desk, you can find me in my other happy place--the garden, watering, weeding and worshipping. My husband and I live near Seattle and close enough to my two grown children and grandchildren that I'm able to hug them often. That is my greatest joy.
View all posts by Jody Lee Collins