Tag Archives: Christian Writers

On Reading & Reciting Poetry

I have a signed copy of this lovely book from Caroline Kennedy’s Seattle appearance a few years back. I was amazed by how many of these poems she knew by heart, many of which she recited for us  that night. 

I am a terrible memorizer. Memorization is an analytical skill, a counter-intuitive trait to this Random Abstract Global thinker. However, next to trying to remember favorite Scriptures, which I’ve gotten mostly by osmosis lo, these 40 plus years, I do want to get some poetry in my memory banks. As C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” (Thanks to Johnny Anomaly at Creative Coping Podcast for that quote.)

So off we go; there are so many lovely poems to memorize.

Poem Number One-The Singing Bowl, Malcolm Guite

I began memorizing Malcolm Guite’s The Singing Bowl last March after a special retreat  where God gave me a singing bowl as a metaphor for the weekend’s experience. In an effort to remind myself often of what God had done, I committed to the process, which I discovered is very doable if the words rhyme. Meter helps, as well.

Guite’s poem is a sonnet–14 lines written in iambic pentameter, with alternating end rhymes. What is iambic pentameter you ask? For those of us not steeped in Shakespeare’s work, let’s thank Google.

“Iambic pentameter is line of verse with five metrical feet, each consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable.”

Read The Singing Bowl and you’ll see what I mean.

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Singing Bowl Malcolm Guite

Begin the song exactly where you are,
Remain within the world of which you’re made.
Call nothing common in the earth or air,

Accept it all and let it be for good.
Start with the very breath you breathe in now,
This moment’s pulse, this rhythm in your blood

And listen to it, ringing soft and low.
Stay with the music, words will come in time.
Slow down your breathing. Keep it deep and slow.

Become an open singing-bowl, whose chime
Is richness rising out of emptiness,
And timelessness resounding into time.

And when the heart is full of quietness
Begin the song exactly where you are.

The remarkable thing to me about having this poem in my bones is that I can recall it at any time and do what the words say–slow down my breathing and stop and listen, a practice I desperately need these days.

Poem Number Two-The 23rd Psalm, George Herbert

Over the summer I kept hearing different lines from Psalm 23 in various places and finally decided to memorize it. How hard could it be? It’s only six verses. Well.

Verse one is easy, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Everybody knows that one. I repeated the next lines rather haltingly from what I could recollect but floundered after verse 3.

Then I read George Herbert’s rendering of the 23rd Psalm. Or, as he wrote it, Psalme 23. Herbert was a cleric and poet who wrote in the 1600’s and while his language is full of very old English phrases, the words are incredibly rich. I especially was pleased to find the six verses of this Psalm written in rhyme and they are now in a little plastic envelope sitting on my kitchen windowsill. The theory is I’ll memorize the psalm/poem while I’m doing dishes. So far I’ve got the first two verses down, but I am in no rush (there are always dishes to wash.)

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Maybe you’d like to read/memorize it, too?

The 23d Psalm George Herbert

The God of love my shepherd is,

And He that does me feed:

While He is mine, and I am His,

What can I want or need?

He leads me to the tender grass,

Where I both feed and rest;

Then to the streams that gently pass:

In both I have the best.

Or if I stray, He does convert

And bring my mind in frame:

And all this not for my desert*

But for His holy name.

Yea, in death’s shady black abode

Well may I walk, not fear:

For You are with me; and Your rod

To guide, Your staff to bear.

Nay, you do make me sit and dine,

Ev’n in my enemies’ sight:

My head with oil, my cup with wine

Runs over day and night.

Surely Your sweet and wondrous love

Shall measure all my days;

And as it never shall remove,

So neither shall my praise.

* desert. Dessert; what one deserves

Poem Number Three-Barter, Sara Teasdale

The folks at Tweetspeak Poetry, founded by poet and editor L.L. Barkat, are committed to keeping poetry alive in the public square. Tweetspeak began with an impromptu Twitter party where all the participants chimed in and voila, Tweetspeak was born. I wrote about my experience with Tweetspeak and some of their mischief here.

Barkat and her team are committed to folks reading and memorizing poetry and to that end they recently included the poem Barter by Sara Teasdale in their offerings to patrons and readers alike. I’m up for the challenge as well, as I enjoy the content of this poem very much–life and loveliness and all–plus, it rhymes!

Here’s what’s printed out and sitting on my desk…. I’ve got the first stanza down. Baby steps.

Barter  Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

Life has loveliness to sell,
     All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
     Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
     Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
     Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
     Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
     Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.
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Loveliness, my summer garden
Now it’s your turn. 

Find a simple poem you like, rhyming or otherwise, and add it to your memory banks. Then tell me, what are you reading these days? I’d love to hear in the Comments.

 

In Which I Speak of Buying Books & Saying Hello

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Golden Gardens Park, Seattle WA, end of summer jlc.

Dear Faithful (and new) Readers~Hello! You might remember back in January when I posted here about spending  my writing efforts in other arenas and that I would henceforth no longer be writing regularly in this space.
Well~things change and God nudges and it’s the first day of Autumn, always a marker for new beginnings. So I am writing to you anew. You may find more poetry here in the coming months as I’ve discovered a latent passion for both reading and writing it. You may also see topics a little more wide ranging than in the past; I look forward to sharing with you what comes to mind and pours out through my pen. Thank you for coming along.

In the meantime, let’s talk about books.

I know you’re as chagrined as I am that all things Halloween and Harvest are now overflowing at nearly every store you see. And alas, the holiday season isn’t far behind. (At my local Michael’s it’s already here. Sigh).

Thoughts of holiday gift-giving and receiving always bring to mind books I’d love to have or want to purchase. And I’m guessing you have many folks to consider as well when it comes to gifting, whether during the holidays or year round for birthdays and such. (Speaking of books about the holidays, I wrote one that I think you’ll find fun and helpful and encouraging–Living the Season Well-Reclaiming Christmas. You can purchase a copy from Indiebound, Books a Million and Barnes & Noble–all listed below). 

But here’s the thing about buying books. The behemoth that is Amazon has nearly swamped the world with its reach and taken the soul out of bookselling and buying. And while I enjoy the ease with which I can purchase everything from bubble bath, to my favorite music and new baby clothes for my granddaughter from my phone…. well, part of me just really wants to do the Christian thing and put the soul back into commerce and spend my money somewhere there’s an actual human.

Consider this my feeble attempt at holding back the tsunami that is ecommerce. (I live in Seattleland where Amazon is headquartered. This is no small feat.)

In the years that I have been attending writing conferences and workshops and retreats I’ve met some fine folks in person who actually are still in business as Christian booksellers and who could really use our money and support. (Two are listed below).

They will not give you the deep discounts and deals that Amazon provides, but your money will go towards supporting the heart of a business and supporting good writers everywhere. If you don’t live in Wichita or somewhere in Pennsylvania, you can support them by ordering online.

One of the largest independent booksellers in the country is Powell’s books in Portland, OR. I love what they say on their website, explaining the whys of independent bookstores:

“Think about the last good book you read. Did it make you feel more connected to others? Maybe it served as a welcome escape. Maybe it helped you rediscover the beauty in life. Did it surprise you?

As an independent bookstore, we strive to offer the same variety and richness of experience as the books on our shelves. And because the only people we’re beholden to are our customers and ourselves, we can focus on what really matters — promoting diverse perspectives, upholding the free exchange of ideas, championing the enduring power of books, and bolstering the great community of readers and authors we’re lucky to be a part of.

Thank you for supporting these lofty goals. Your choice sustains a family business with over 500 local booksellers, and allows us to follow our passion for getting the right books into the right hands, 365 days a year.”

Here is my list (by no means exhaustive) of brick and mortar stores with their online websites, followed by online-only booksources. I hope you’ll consider these as your go-to’s when it comes to buying books for all those on your lists.

Powell’s City of Books-Portland Oregon, plus 4 other Portland Locations

Flagship location with over one million books!

Totally worth a field trip, my PNW friends
1005 W Burnside St.
Portland, OR 97209

Third Place Books 3 Seattle area locations–Lake Forest Park (original store), Ravenna and Seward Park

17171 Bothell Way NE, #A101, Lake Forest Park WA 98155

https://www.thirdplacebooks.com

Hearts and Minds Bookstore–Byron Borger Dallastown, PA Byron is committed to supporting Christian authors and their work through his store, which is more like a ministry than anything else. His staff is remarkably helpful; there are actual people to talk with you call about your orders and books come wrapped with exquisite care. 

https://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com/

234 East Main Street
Dallastown, PA 17313
(717) 246-3333

Eighth Day Books-Warren Farha Wichita, KS. Warren regularly sets up his display of books at the bi-annual Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids Michigan where I first met him in 2018. He is also the official bookseller for the Glen Workshop (Image Journal) in Santa Fe each year, where he also was a gracious servant to all of us book-loving attendees.

https://www.eighthdaybooks.com/

2838 E Douglas Ave,

Wichita, KS 67214

(316) 683-9446

Goodwill Stores I buy most of my books used and Goodwill is always my first choice.

For collectible, rare and out of print, go to https://www.goodwillbooks.com/

Barnes and Noble (of course) Everywhere almost

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/

Online Only

Indie Bound

https://www.indiebound.org/

Includes a link (big red button) to find a local independent bookseller in your area

Books a Million (BAM!)

https://www.booksamillion.com/

Books, Toys, Tech & More

Thrift Books–New and Used Books–also a favorite source

https://www.thriftbooks.com/

Abe Books–Hard to find, out of print and rare–also a favorite

https://www.abebooks.com/

Oh~almost forgot–Half Price Books–they’re everywhere! Actual stores and online.

Happy Shopping! Tell me, what’s your favorite booksource? I’d love to hear in the Comments.

 

The Problem with Making Plans

P_20190120_153155_vHDR_On.jpgSome History

I’ve been writing most of my adult life via Letters to the Editor in publications as diverse as our local San Joaquin valley paper, to People Magazine (something about Michael Dukakis–Google him). I forayed into writing and submitting essays before they became creative nonfiction and had a few pieces published–one was an entire page and garnered me a whopping $75.00 check. (It’s on microfiche in the Fresno Public Library. You can also Google microfiche). I even had some poetry printed in one of the very first Jesus People magazines, Cornerstone. (Google. Again.)

In addition to writing, I returned to school as a mom and finished my teaching credential program at the age of 40. The years I spent in the classroom, along with raising our son and daughter demanded more and more of my time. There was very little opportunity to write or submit work anywhere. However, when my kids were grown and gone several years ago I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to begin writing again.

At the time ‘writing’ equaled ‘published’ in my mind. When I mentioned this to someone they suggested I start a blog. “What’s a blog?” I asked. Well.

This Blog’s Beginning and Connections

Seven years ago this week during a 7-day snowstorm that shuttered the city and the schools, I had plenty of time on my hands and jumped into the blogosphere with both feet.

As I went looking around the interwebs for Christian bloggers I discovered three kind souls in particular who answered my novice question, “where do I begin?” One suggestion was to use the free online platform of Blogger.  I taught myself how to navigate their layouts, hit ‘Publish’ and 3 Way Light was born. ‘Taught’ is a relative term; I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I entitled my blog “Three Way Light,” because I wanted my words to shine, reflect and reveal the light and glory of God. My words went off into cyberspace and thus began a wonderful adventure.

When I reached out to those who had gone before me or who were journeying alongside, I found I was surrounded by welcoming writer friends and readers. It was an astonishing event; the community of people I met were encouraging and kind as I connected via the comments in my blogposts. Many of those people became personal, in real life friends; in fact many of you, dear readers, are those kind souls whom I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know in person over the years.

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Over time I transitioned to my current site via the WordPress platform and changed Three Way Light to simply my name, as people were beginning to know my work and my words (which was also astonishing.)

A New Direction

Here I am seven years later and God has said it’s time. Time for a change in the blogosphere.

Seven years is a long-ish time. Seven is also a number in God’s economy that signifies completeness. Through very surprising circumstances and another silent nudge from the Holy Spirit, a course correction is in order. Not for a different direction, but to travel with fewer encumbrances, if that makes sense. The present nudges have come in very subtle ways… I re-read my journal from the last month and found pieces like breadcrumbs on the page, all leading to an ‘aha!’ decision that surprised me a great deal.

One day while I was pondering these soul thoughts and the tug of my heart to grow my words in other ways, I heard a still, small voice say, “What if you stopped blogging regularly?” And just like that I was not only shocked but incredibly relieved. (Sometimes we don’t know how wound up we are about something until God releases us, yes?)

The shock came because I had grand plans at the beginning of 2019 to regularly feature work from Faith Writers Over 50–The Sage Ones, to feature more female poets of faith and to spotlight Christian writers of color. I would do interviews, I would gather awesome folks to introduce to the world. I would make the world more beautiful by pointing towards poetry.

But I’m also being pulled towards a regular life of writing in other directions and I can’t do it all. So~as of this writing, I will be signing off my last blog post entry. No more weekly or semi-weekly blog entries to think about. Insert happy/sad face.

That being said, this website will continue to be a place for resources and information and encouragement, as my tagline says. I’ll just have things set up differently. The categories and tabs will be modified somewhat and readers will find entries in lists rather than blogposts.

Past blogposts will be enfolded into Lists/Resources like:

  • 5 Female Faith Writers
  • Faith Writers Over 50
  • 3 Blogs About Faith and Food
  • 5 Non-Profits I Trust and Give To
  • Christian Writers of Color
  • 12 Writers Conferences and Retreats for 2019 (click here for that)
  • and many more

I’ll also be adding new categories–‘Photography’ combined with music–my amateur film captures with music I love, and a ‘Favorites’ tab–listing websites and blogs I enjoy.

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There’s a rainbow in the distance if you look very closely….

Most change comes at a very slow pace so the differences here will show up over time. Something like turning a cruise ship around.

I’m still venturing through the water, paddling towards the shore, but the oars will be a little lighter in my hands. (And I’ll be waving at all of you from the shore.)

My regular writing will now be via my newsletter ‘Random Acts of Writing–Miraculous to Mundane.’ Every other month beginning with February 1st I’ll be penning a multitude of thoughts I haven’t shared elsewhere. You can sign up for my newsletter here. Next month’s edition will feature notes as varied as my review of “Mary Poppins Returns” to thoughts about two new book projects and links to other places on the web where my work has appeared.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride by subscribing here. 

Rowing towards the same shore with you,

Jody

 

Any-a-gram {a #poem}

I hate it that I am so sporadic

inconsistent, not persistent,
         no straight-ahead-in-a-line-to-the-finish.
I’m distracted, side-tracked
stops and starts, mis-matched piles,
can’t remember the whats and whens.
No perfect files, labeled loudly
      I  A M  I N  C O N T R O L.
I feign at neatness, completeness escaping me
ever in process, a mess in the making.
Oh, why can’t I be like those orderly others,
those finishers perfectly packing their lives in a box,
the rank and file, who smile
     at me, “Oh poor thing, she’s so erratic.” 
Well—
I am resigned to the wholeof me,
my hits and misses
marking a difference,
scattering joy, seeds abound.
I cannot (do not) go in a straight line—
Random A to B then on to Z.
(Sequences only happen on a test.)
And life is an actual emergency
(not a test).
I like this formula better:
A cubed to D once plus E squared
then back to A and jump to N, then
who-knows-what?
I’m the only one
who can spell my life.
——-
from my files, circa 2008. still true

I am From {a #poem}

20170501_133356I am from doughboy pools and homemade Barbie houses

from Huffy bikes and Helms Bakery donuts.

I am from three sisters to a room and broad green bermuda lawns.

I am from bright sandy beaches and weeping willows

whose drooping green sheltered me from California’s sun.

I am from Coppertone and Sun-In

from Helen and Wes and John.

I am from belting out a tune and scribbling in the dark

from roller skating and tree-fort-building

from fighting at the top of my lungs and finding quiet at any cost.

I am from Bible stories with Mrs. Cluck and anywhere-you-can-take-5-kids-on-a-Sunday.

I am from the Hebjums and Lindseys, a Best at heart with an adopted name

from porkchops and sauerkraut, applesauce and meatloaf

from a father two generations back that made a grown girl flee

and a mother who lived chasing beauty wherever she could find it, rich or poor.

But mostly poor.

I am from luaus and carnivals, beach trips and berry-picking

babysitting and in charge at age 12 and hiding with a book to make it all go away.

I am from those moments of running, singing, writing, hiding, lying in the sun

but never far from the watchful eye of an invisible Father

held in arms more real than scratchy lawns and doughboy pools and donuts and

roller skates.

A Father more present than my own skin, closer than the sunshine on my bright brown hair.

Lover of my soul who was there every meandering minute, keeping time until I came home. 

~~~~~~~

In November of 2017 I had the privilege of participating in a gathering called “What’s Your Story? Discovering the Gift of Hearing and Telling our Stories.” Guest speakers were Cornelia Seigneur, founder and director of the Faith and Culture Writer’s Conference, and Velynn Brown, mentor and speaker. They are both from the Portland area.

I’m grateful to Velynn for sharing her “I Am From” poem with us and modeling how to write our own. The original form and idea comes from George Ella Lyon, writer and teacher.  If you’d like to write an “I Am From,” there are resources and examples on Georgia’s website. Mr. Google can also oblige.

Autumn Seventeen {a #poem}

When did the hills 
gather this golden?
yesterday’s horizons
turn amber in waves?
I slept with green outside

my window and woke 

to topaz, russet, moving 

yellow, mellow against the sky.

-Jody Collins c. 2017