Ministry is one of the only professions besides writing where a person has daily need for poetry. Poetry refreshes and renews language and adds insight to stories we’ve heard many times. It can be woven meaningfully into sermons, and it bolsters the human spirit.
But pastors often turn to the same poets over and over again, and time to explore new territory is limited.
To fully celebrate the life and legacy of Maya Angelou, we must contextualize her 86 years of living within the black religious traditions that influenced her and birthed her deep spirituality. While countless scholars have analyzed her literary, political, and cultural contributions, few have situated her work within the scope of black religious life, particularly the African-American Christian tradition.
Rahila Muska, a teenage girl, lived in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, a Taliban stronghold. Muska was known for regularly calling into a radio program on which women share landays, a traditional Pashtun form of poetry. Like most women who do this, Muska shared other people’s poems, not her own—to acknowledge authorship would have endangered her life.
Philip C. Kolin is one of the growing tribe of very fine Christian poets whose work has often been sequestered in the limited venues of independent publishers. His newest collection is a beautifully printed, small hardcover volume that fits comfortably in the palm of the hand. But these are not small or comfortable poems.
A striking and apt image enhances the cover of this new collection of interviews with 19 leading American poets. An antique chair sits half in shadow; its cane seat, crossed by a beam of light, filters bright intricacies onto the legs, the dowels, the timbered floor. The message here is illumination, from a source offstage.
In Poetic Theology, William Dyrness tries to keep one eye on the historical conversation about art's theological value, one eye on the issues of the contemporary church, and one eye on the interests of art itself. As the metaphor implies, this project could make anyone dizzy.