Tag Archives: God

My One-Note Song

Last summer I entered my first poetry book, Light in My Darknessin the Writers Digest Self Published Book Awards contest. Riding high on the coattails of being named a finalist in the Cascade Writers Contest in the published poetry category, I decided to submit my book on the last possible day of the contest and see what happened. I didn’t really expect to win, but I thought the feedback I would receive might be valuable.

I received an email with the judge’s comments just yesterday. I was a bit surprised to find that my submission was only read by one judge. Given the price tag on entering and the national scope of the contest I figured they’d have at least two judges per book.

At any rate, I thought I’d share the less-than-glowing review here with you all. I know, it seems weird to share a review that doesn’t just rave about my book, but I do so for a reason. Although the judge found fault with my labor of love, it was the very fault that he or she found that made me smile. Here’s the review, copied and pasted with grammatical errors and all, with my favorite part in bold:

Judge’s Commentary*:

This book of Christian devotional poetry is written by a woman who pulled herself up from the depths of depression through faith, and she should be admired for it. I also appreciate is that the poet uses many different forms of poetry to express herself:  pantoums, sonnets, villanelles, cinquains, triolets, sestinas, ghazals, acrostics, and even a concrete poem, as well as other rhymed verse and free verse.

My problem with this 127-page book is that it is composed almost entirely of poems of praise, and after a while it becomes a one-note song. The entire first section uses the metaphor of darkness into light to describe her salvation and coming up from depression. One can say the same thing only so many ways. There are five more sections to the book, on themes of “bring light to the darkness of others”, “being set free from the past”, forgiveness, “god in the midst of pain and suffering”, and a last section of what I would describe as “pure praise”.  Recurring themes come up in poem after poem: darkness vs. light, Jesus vs. Satan, “jars of clay”, etc. Most of the poems have an addendum of a Scripture quote too. Also, the poet chooses to label the type of poetic form beneath the title of most of these poems. This isn’t necessary, and many rhymed poems here are mislabeled as “free verse.”  The book conveys its message through its cover too – a kneeling figure on a cliff looking up to an image of a cross on a mountainside. The type size is quite large- was it meant to be a “large-print” book ? (I’m not asking this facetiously.) The bio and blurbs on the back cover are well-presented.

Granted, I am not a devout person, so maybe I don’t take the message to heart as a more religious person would. Still, I think even a faithful reader may find this book a bit repetitive after the first twenty or thirty pages.  My advice to the author: Use your interest in poetic forms to your best advantage, and diversify your themes and subjects. There is so much you can say from a perspective of faith about nature, your family and friends, social issues, even your career.  Don’t be afraid to bring in more details of your life and less of the language of praise, and your next book may be even better.

I am thrilled that this reader saw my praise of God so prominently in my poetry. If that is my one-note song, I’ve succeeded in doing what God has called me to do. I’ll keep singing that song until the day I die. To those struggling with depression, I want to clearly reveal the love and hope of Jesus so that they might one day praise Him, too, for being the Light in their darkness.

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Prayer Sparks

Despair sparks desperation
sends me to my knees
I want to cry
I don’t know why
Sobbing turns to prayer
deep in my soul

Mercy sparks forgiveness
sends me to my knees
I find healing
for this desperate feeling
Life that makes me whole

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This is my writing for Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub. The word for today is spark.

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Clouds of Haleakala

sunrise

Standing in the dark in the middle of a rain cloud
sideways rain at ten-thousand feet slapping my face

Waiting, waiting for sunrise
Angry visitors give up, go home, curse the clouds

We wait, are rewarded with beauty of sparkling rays
streaming  God’s glory

________________________

I decided to write a second more positive Quadrille for dVerse Poets Pub today. The word to include is cloud, which made me think of being in the midst of a cloud waiting for sunrise on Mt. Haleakala, Maui.

 

 

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What Is Bravery?

Why say I’m brave?
You don’t call robbery victims brave
when they tell
You don’t call shooting victims brave
when they tell
You don’t call mugging victims brave
when they tell
Yet your clouded view calls me brave
when I tell
I was raped

_______________________________

Today is Quadrille Monday over at dVerse Poets Pub. The prompt will be up at 12:00 PT, but I learned that the word for today is “cloud” from Victoria who has access to the prompt earlier than I do. But I wrote the first draft of this Quadrille earlier this morning not knowing what the word was and then worked it in later. I think it’s better with the change.

The impetus for this poem was something that happened last week when I told a group of people in a meeting that I had been raped. I won’t go into the context of the discussion, but during and after the meeting several people told me how brave I was to speak up. As I pondered those comments over the past week I felt an anger welling up. To me, those comments were indicative of the stigma that still remains on victims of sexual assault, like somehow we are partly to blame for what has happened to us and we should be ashamed of what we’ve been through.

I am thankful that God doesn’t see it that way. He doesn’t call me brave; He calls me beloved.

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Safety of Your Wing

Here in the shadow of Your wing
I am safe
Safe to rejoice
Safe to weep and mourn

Here in the shadow of Your wing
I am secure
Secure in my future
Secure from the former things

Here in the shadow of Your wing
I will rest
Rest in peace
Rest in harmony and grace

I seek You and I find love
Here in the shadow of Your wing

___________________________

At dVerse Poets Pub today, Victoria is calling for poems about feathers, wings, or birds. At first I was going to write about bald eagles, which remind me of my mom. But then when I went to get lunch the song “Shadow of Your Wings” by Casting Crowns came on my iPod in the car and it gave me the idea for this poem instead.

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Gospel Clerihews

The apostle John
dropped his nets at dawn
followed Jesus with the ten
all became fishers of men

*********

Simon’s son Judas
by his betrayal showed us
it’s not enough to meet God
if a different path we trod

*********

Today’s Form for All prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is a lesson the Clerihew. I just started an in-depth study of the book of John so thought I’d write about a couple of famous people from that book. Head on over the dVerse to see who others are writing about in short verse.

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Read to the End

My life’s an open book
pages torn, stained
with tears and blood

Come read who I am
see where I’ve been
get lost in my painful life

But don’t put my book down until
you’ve reached the end where
you’ll find grace and redemption

_______________________________________

It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub. I love this prompt because I can always find time to write 44 words that say so much. Today the required word is “open.” Head over and check out the other 44-word tomes offered today. The pub opens at 12:00 Pacific Time.

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I Am the Moon

I am the moon
shining the light of the sun
into a dark world

Some nights
I shine exquisitely bright

Tonight I wane
keeping the light to myself
I need it all to survive
for now

But fear not
I shall wax again

___________________________

For yesterday’s Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, Grace is calling for poems about the moon personified. This is what I came up with.

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My Story in 44 Words

Another poem written during my coaching class with Sarah Thebarge.
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My Story – A Quadrille

They stole my innocence, my peace
Left me powerless, without any choice
Pain buried in alcohol, drugs,
academic success
Unhealed pain, despair, darkness
never leave, never will

God calls me from exile by His Word
His people who love me
His dream of forgiveness

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Who Am I?

A Quadrille self-portrait for dverse Poets Pub.
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I am afraid at my core
but courageous because
I know God loves me
I am survivor, forgiver
I am a killer, but forgiven
I am an introverted extrovert
straddling the line of expectations
Melancholy but full of joy
Lover of mercy and justice

image

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