Thursday, November 30, 2006


I haven’t posted anything here for a while, I see. It’s not because I haven’t been thinking poetry. In fact I have very much!

In the last few weeks, we (Nathan Harms, my editor/publisher and I) have been working on my book – the one that comes as a perk of being named Utmost’s Poet Laureate. And so instead of writing a batch of new poems, I’ve been tidying old ones and getting them ready to find their way in the world.

It’s odd how this writing business seems to have its own seasons. At the moment I’m working on harvest and finding it hard to start anything new. At the same time, I’m missing the rush of having just written something – the burst of new growth breaking through the soil. But I know that soon it will be the season of new poems again – very soon.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Be a poetry judge

Have you ever had a yen to judge a poetry contest? Utmost Christian Writers lets you do just that – for free. You might even win a book of poems for yourself.

The contest is on this page. Read the three poems, decide which one you think should win and send your answer via the "Email your answer" link at the bottom of the page.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Book review: I SPAT by Stephanie R. Bridges

Title: I SPAT
Author: Stephanie R. Bridges
Publisher: Publish America
Genre: Poetry
ISBN: 1424119766

In her first chapbook, I SPAT (acronym for In Spirit, Power and Truth), poet Stephanie Bridges raps, rhythms and rhymes her spiritual journey in thirty poems that range from a defense of God as judge (“Follow the Sun”) to apologies to the children she’s aborted (“Anjel” and “Angel”). The poem section is preceded by her story "Bridges to God," told in prose. In it she chronicles her journey through various addictions and self-destructive behaviors. In the end, she explains how these became bridges to the God who pursued her through every circumstance.

I like the transparency that comes through much of Bridges’ work. She doesn’t avoid talking about experiences and behaviors she has struggled with like rape, abortion, and various addictions. And she isn’t shy to tell on herself:

“I am a vegetarian
Engaging in carnivorous relationships
A non-smoker
With nicotine on my lips”

- “Myself”

Especially moving are the poems she addresses to the kids she chose not to have – and the one she birthed, but with an attitude.

“I prayed my baby dead
As I lay alone in the hospital bed
Nurses poked and doctors pervaded
But to no avail she refused to debut

- “Lovingly”

Bridges’ work isn’t all dark and gloomy, though. There is also freedom and a sense of acceptance, joy and celebration:

“...No dress code
Come as you are
Leave your past at the door
Cause there’s redemption at the bar
You can dance
Party non-stop. . .”

- “G’sus N’em”

Despite a variety in subject matter, a sense of unity is achieved with the use of formatting (title, Bible verse reference, centered poem, another Bible reference and the verse quoted in full). There is also a similarity in the the rhythms and rhyme patterns that flow through much of Bridges’ work. I am reminded of rap. Many of these poems beg for out-loud performance.

The spiritual angle of the book is never subtle. The Scriptures that bracket each selection become another facet of what Bridges conveys. The book as a whole leaves no doubt who Bridges credits for her escape from an addictive lifestyle. And in her story and poems she sends the message that she continues to rely on God through the challenges of life as a single mom to four kids.

This is an accessible, gritty yet hopeful collection of poems. It will appeal to those open to considering the answers given to life’s knotty problems in the Bible and the Christian faith.