The Poetry’s in the Perspective

Last night, I read The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart by Gabrielle Calvocoressi.
And it was lovely.

I haven’t written much about my own writing on this blog, but the project that I have been working on all semester has been a series of sequence poems that all chronologically represent the past summer in my life.

I’ve struggled with the way to make 20 poems describing vastly different events flow together in the way the need to, but reading this short chapbook was definitely the help I needed.

This book is a series of poems from different historical persons’ perspectives about…you guessed it… the last time they all saw Amelia Earhart.
Her language is concise, conversational, in a way that is difficult to do in poetry without being way too simple.
She creates emotional depth that rocked me to the core with the simplest of images.

A portion of my favorite poem of the collection is:
VII: Joel Sullivan, miner

“Amelia Earhart is a dream

 

my daughter won’t give up.

Sometimes I want to shake her,

tell her what small towns are,

 

how the coal dust coats your skin

till darkness never leaves you

and the sky doesn’t matter much

 

when you’re wheezing underground.

She won’t believe that woman’s dead.

She says, I think it’s romantic

 

to disappear. I bite my tongue

to keep from telling her

she’ll get her chance in time.”

 

Her language is simple, uncomplicated. I can picture a dirty, tired miner saying these words, but at the same time, the beauty of her poetry is the imagery, the connections she makes. She makes us feel the emotions of every character in every poem by getting into their experience and telling the story from their perspective. By doing this, she gives homage and honor to one of the most well-known American heroes.

 

So be encouraged, friends. Keep telling good stories, engaging emotionally, and keeping it simple. And if you need inspiration, read The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart.

Keep reading,

Abigail Joy

 

“Yeah, I read! I read the Bible.”

My father, who’s currently getting his PhD in English, used to be a full-time minister in an evangelical denomination of Christianity. He was on the board that was given the task to interview new ministers to determine ordination.

One question he learned early on to ask at those interviews was “What are you reading?”

This is a pretty typical question thrown around at cocktail parties and coffee shops. It’s a getting to know you question. Are you the sort of person who reads fantasy? Young Adult Lit? Whatever Oprah put on her list in 2006 that you just got around to reading? God forbid, something pretentious like poetry chapbooks? (Because there is no “I’m kidding” font, I would like to say that I’m kidding here.)

However, when my dad would ask these potential young pastors what they were reading, they would often flounder and then say, “Well, I read the Bible.”

 

Now, as a Christian, I am fully supportive of reading the Bible. Like, I think it’s vitally important.

But Christians shouldn’t just read the Bible. Because not reading widely not only makes you miss out as an individual, it makes you miss out as a Christian.

I read a fantastic article that was actually published a few years ago, but I stumbled upon it today while doing some research for a class. It was titled “Thou Shalt Read” and it was written by Karen Swallow Prior, a professor at Liberty University. (You can read the full article here at Relevant).

She basically lays out the different reasons why reading is important and vital for Christians. It seems like a simple idea, but I think it’s unfortunately a necessary thing for a lot of Christians to know.

The argument that I think was my favorite in her article was that reading non-Christian work helps us to “test” all things, and cling to good and resist evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)

She uses an example of the first time she read Madame Bovary, a book that was banned in its day for being too racy, and how it helped her faith and marriage. She said she saw her own romanticism in Emma Bovary, and she said the novel opened her eyes to the poor results that could come from having unrealistic expectations about love and passion.

A “secular” work made her rethink something very integral to her personal character.

It helped her cling to good.

Reading is important. Reading makes us better, if we let it.

As a beginning writer who’s currently focused on one major writing project, I need inspiration wherever I can find it.

However, this article reminded me that reading isn’t just beneficial for me professionally.

It’s essential for me spiritually too.

 

So in the coming weeks as I read and blog, I’m going to be clinging to the good technically and artistically, as well as spiritually.

Because I want what I read to mean something to my life holistically. I want everything to be drawing me closer to the person I want to be and the Saviour I profess.

 

Keep reading, friends. Cling to good.

Abigail Joy