For 2017, I decided to take a step toward getting my poetry recognized. To commemorate this turning point in my journey as a poet, I thought it would be appropriate to debut my poetry blog at time when poetry is celebrated- National Poetry Month!
For my first blog, I share a few highlights about my writing journey last year, my first poems, and where I believe I am headed next.
My journey in 2016
In 2016, God inspired me to write poetical responses to scripture. Sometimes I would incorporate a scripture into a part of the poem. Other times, God inspired me to write a poem using a scripture as a theme. By October 2016, I sensed it was time for me to test the waters and see if I could have my poems published. To my delight, my poem, Again, I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift… was accepted for publication in Times of Singing, a Christian poetry magazine. With this poem, which I share here, I attempt to bring a little humor and encouragement about everyday mishaps while applying Ecclesiastes 9:11 (ESV):
Again, I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift…
I rush through the morning:
“…nor the battle to the strong…”
My car has a flat tire.
“… nor bread to the wise…”
I burned my toast.
“…nor riches to the intelligent…”
I misplaced my subway pass.
“nor favor to those with knowledge…”
My library book has a $3.00 late fine.
“…but time and chance happen to them all.”
And the blessings continue…
Excited about my first poetry publication, I decided to take another step toward establishing myself as a poet. I sought a forum where I could meet other poets, learn ways to improve my craft, and explore publication opportunities. In November 2016, I applied for a scholarship to attend the Florida Christian Writers Conference . As part of the application, I sent my poem, “Again I saw under the sun….” and three poems that had not yet been reviewed. To my complete surprise, I won a scholarship! The scholarship committee mentioned that my poetry was selected as one of the top ten among 34 applicants! With my conference scholarship in hand, I made plans to travel to the Lake Yale Retreat Center outside of Orlando, Florida in February 2017.
After bearing temperatures barely in the 30’s and a series of snowstorms that blanketed Connecticut, I was looking forward to enjoying temperatures in the 80’s and sunny skies in Florida. Unfortunately, while enduring incubator-like conditions aboard the plane and the temperature differences between the states, I came down with a severe cold. Determined to take advantage of the blessing God gave me to attend the conference, I asked for prayer, swallowed several dosages of vitamin C and Dayquil, and pressed my way through the conference activities.
Healing, restoration, and hope
Between the workshops and networking, I found time to enjoy the warm temperatures and peaceful surroundings of the retreat center. Sitting outside at Lake Yale at the foot of the Cross helped me regain my strength and healing.
Overall, the conference exceeded my expectations! I met writers of different genres who are passionate about their faith and their writing. I received instruction from the workshops that is helping me improve my craft as well as to engage with the larger community of Christian writers. Best of all, I had an opportunity to meet with a well-renowned poetry editor who gave me valuable perspectives and insights about the world of publishing for poetry.
Along with my great conference experience, I witnessed God at work. While driving through the town of Eustis one rainy morning, I saw a rainbow as the sun began to emerge. For me, this was sign that God was preparing me for a new direction in my journey as a poet.
“The noon day epiphany”
By the end of the conference, I was confident that God wanted me to become more serious about establishing myself as a poet. For me, this meant exploring more forums to publish my poetry as well as publically sharing my poetry. Hence, this poetry blog represents my first foray into these arenas. Reaching this turning point was an epiphany for me. One of the poems I submitted to the scholarship committee, “The noon day epiphany,” is my poetic tribute to my turning point. God inspired to write this poem using James 1:2-6 (ESV):
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
In this poem, I attempt to capture the moment in which we must make a decision about whether we will move forward despite the challenges:
The noon day epiphany
The morning’s events, swirling like confetti,
a leak on the bathroom floor,
a late train,
an appointment canceled,
a visitor unexpected,
a missing form,
my sent email with no response.
By noon, weary am I
Should I quit, or should I go on?
My Father tells me, “Let him ask in faith, with no doubting…”
So, I declare, by faith, I shall go on!
Similar to what I ask in my poem, I had to make a decision about participating at the Florida conference: Should I quit, or should I go on? Should I stay in bed the entire conference? Or, should I pray in faith, do what I could to manage the cold, and attend the workshops and networking opportunities? Looking back, I realized that my suffering through the cold was a test of my faith. I understand that God has the best in store for me, even if I have to go through some tribulation to receive it.
I am looking forward that by National Poetry Month in 2018, I will be celebrating as a widely published poet! I would love to meet others on my journey and join with them in believing what God can do for us. Please follow my journey on Twitter!