National Poetry Month Wrap-Up & Giveaway

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If I’m being honest, I’ll tell you that it’s been a weird month.

It started with snow, and it’s ending with cold, gusting rain (and a chance of more snow. But let’s not talk about that).

In between the storms that have trumpeted both the beginning and the ending of the month, I feel like I’ve swung through an entire emotional pendulum and back: the unexpected redux of Depression…and the relief of healing. Wild grace and love from friends, family, and church…alongside some unprecedented new (and slightly debilitating) Internet Hate.

Inspiration and encouragement for my writing journey at the Festival of Faith and Writing…and the slow, daily struggle into the heart of the beast that is my second book.

I’ve been wanting to write here but haven’t known what to say.

And it strikes me now that this is exactly why we need poetry. We need it to draw our eyes to what can’t be said in prose, to what can’t be argued, to what can’t be figured out. We need the ones who are able to settle deep into the bottom of the ocean that is One Moment and to take us with them. We need the poets so that we can breathe. We need them so that we can understand, and also, so that we can realize how much we don’t understand.

Looking back through this month’s post, I’m amazed at all the amazing poets who took the time to come share their work and their insights with us.

If you missed it, here are some highlights:

The Contradictory Nature of Poetry by Dave Harrity: “They aren’t silver bullets, tweetable platitudes, divine deliveries, or didactic directives that help you “be a better person.” If a poem made your world easier, simpler, or more livable, then it’s almost certain that you haven’t read a poem.”

Poetry and the Reading Soul by Tania Runyan: “Poetry, I have a confession to make. I’m a poet, with two degrees and many editorial positions to my credit, but I don’t always want to spend time with you.”

Big, Wild and Unanswerable by Hannah Notess: “It was in college that I discovered poets who wrestled with faith and doubt in their work. This was awfully convenient, as I was wrestling with faith and doubt myself.”

Your Twenty-First Century Prayer Life by Nathaniel Hanson: “How could I call out my own tepid prayer life, a prayer live marked by solipsism? As it has so many times before, poetry rescued me.”

Honky-Tonk Bride by Sarah Wells: “The writing of poetry is my meditation practice; it’s the quiet place I find to be still and listen, to be still and know, or at least to be still and wonder.”

The Wall Is You: Entering Faith Through Poetry by Thom Caraway: “Sometimes the Spirit speaks poetry into your life, and you receive it. I’ve learned to feel blessed rather than lucky.”

The Popular Poet by John Blase: “Sometimes, if you’re not careful, you can talk yourself out of writing poetry or any creative endeavor for that matter simply because you don’t have the credentials. You can diminish yourself that way in terms of your faith too. In both cases that’s sheer nonsense.”

A Poetry of Reconciliation by Daniel Bowman Jr.: “Great poetry should always invite us to enter into union with what is beyond us.”

The Reflection of God by Amy McCann: “Poetry is not a flat thing, a page thing, but curved, as an eye must be to clearly see our likewise-curved world.”

Poetry is Useless — Thank God by Brad Fruhauff: “Poetry isn’t “useless” in an absolute sense, just an instrumental sense. You can’t use poetry to open a jar or to change a law. But if truth is something more than wishing, then you may be able to “use” poetry to open a mind or change someone’s mood long enough to help them—or you—become a different, perhaps better, person.”

April is just about over, but that doesn’t mean that our  pursuit of Truth and Beauty should end. One of the great gifts to me this month was the chance to spend some time at the Festival of Faith and Writing with artists and editors who are living in that gray middle space of mystery, faith and unknowing.

These wonderful people are, of course, found in all sorts of places. But right now, I want to tell you about the ones who are working on and writing for literary journals — those great, unsung heroes of popular publishing. While these journals and magazines exist across the whole spectrum of literature, I think that they’re especially critical to people who are seeking to explore the dark shadows, questions and uncertainties of their faith. And there are a few journals out there that are dedicated almost exclusively to these issues.

Listen, there has been much made lately of the “gatekeepers” — the ones barring controversial material from Christian audiences, bowing to the power of fundamentalist pockets, keeping things out of Christian Bookstores across the country and the world.

I’m not interested in having a discussion about that right now. (Except to give a shout-out to my excellent publisher, Convergent, who let me keep all of the curse words and complicated content in my book.)

What I want to tell you are that there are beautiful, brave voices who are breaking through those gates. And we need to be reading them.

literary magazines

Magazines like Relief Journal, Rock & Sling, Ruminate Magazine, and Image are consistently putting out excellent poetry, essays and fiction by artists exploring faith and mystery, trying to come to terms with their own darkness and doubts.

These magazines and journals operate outside the more-is-more, publish-what-sells business models that most publishers find themselves anchored (often begrudgingly) to.With small operating budgets and staffs that are largely volunteer, literary magazines and journals get to push the envelope, explore the gray, sink deep into the moment and stay.

They are a force of truth and beauty that the Church at large has been missing and that we need to zero in on.

If you want more of this, subscribe to one of these beautiful publications right now. If this poetry series has spoken, in some small way, to your soul, there is more here for you.

[Image Rock & Sling Ruminate Relief]

I harassed the editors of each of these magazines while at the Festival and scored a copy of each one for a giveaway today. Simply offer a comment below — preferably about some way poetry has spoken to you this month…but if you’re feeling brain-dead on this April Tuesday, I’ll allow a simple I want one! instead. I’ll pick and announce the four winners this Friday, May 2nd.

UPDATE: An amazing reader just asked to anonymously underwrite the cost of more literary magazines. So instead of having only 4 copies to giveaway, I now have 13! Contest extended until Saturday, May 3rd!

Thanks so much for following along with us this month. I hope you were moved.

44 thoughts on “National Poetry Month Wrap-Up & Giveaway

  1. I’d like a free copy! I don’t read much poetry, and I’ve been busy on my master’s from seminary. Now that I’m almost done, I’d love to take a break from prose textbooks!

  2. Addie, I just began reading your blog regularly this month, and your National Poetry Month detour has been such a blessing. My New Year’s resolution to “write some poetry” hasn’t kicked off at all, but I’ve begun /reading/ poetry here and in Tania Runyon’s book too. It has been like stepping out of the ordinary world and into a garden!

  3. This Has been a weird month, hasn’t it. I am re-learning to appreciate and sit with this old friend that got left behind many years ago. I read something in a Madeline L’Engle devotional I use(Glimpses of Grace) a couple of days ago that I keep going back to on so many levels, but it works for poetry too: “It’s a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand. It stops us from taking anything for granted.” Poetry helps swirl the sand away sometimes.

  4. “We need the poets so that we can breathe.” Yes! I’ve never been a huge poetry reader, but I started earlier this year with Mary Oliver and have gone from there. Your blog has been a huge encouragement to me this April. As a college student going through a “wilderness” season, I have been so blessed by entering into the minds of those who aren’t afraid of the complex and the unknown. I came across this quote in Ian Morgan Chase’s Chasing Francis last night and think that it’s fitting: “All beauty is subversive; it flies under the radar of people’s critical filters and points them to God.” Poetry has encouraged me to seek after God even when I’m struggling and have far more questions than answers. As always, thanks for what you do!

  5. My daughter is exploring the depths of her struggle with faith and the poetry she writes is so good and honest and hard to read – I cry regularly over it and at the same time can’t get enough. Would love to hear how others express it too. It so helps to read and pray at the same time. Please enter me in the give away.

  6. I love your honesty. I am praying grace for the internet hate (oh sensitive soul, I am praying you don’t callous over, we need you the way you are). I love the way poetry reaches my student’s imaginations, and they in turn remind me of mine.

  7. Excellent series. I’m sad that National Poetry Month is ending because I’ve discovered such wonderful voices about poetry. Daniel Bowman Jr’s quote from Robert Bly about the enemies of poetry has been so thought provoking for me this month – it seems that the enemies of poetry are also enemies to an authentic walk in faith with Christ. I am really enjoying your blog since tuning in after the Festival of Faith & Writing!

  8. I am no poet, stink at writing it, find that I have WAY TOO MANY words instead of the few beautiful that are needed. BUT. I have a deep love for poetry, and have found exactly what you say to be true: that sometimes when I don’t have the right words, or any at all, the poets do. They are the prophets. Thanks for opening my eyes to new and beautiful poets.

  9. You send those instigators of Internet Hate my way, and I’ll give them an earful. Addie, you are doing amazing things– or rather, God is doing amazing things through your voice. So proud of your willingness to be a conduit of truth. I’ve loved your poetry series, friend. Thanks for curating it!

  10. I would have never known it was national poetry month is you had not posted about it. But you inspired me to begin reading poetry. And I found two friends of mine who write poetry that makes me sit down and feel each word or fly in the joy of a simple moment. I found poetry in my reading for psychology class and sat alone reading the words out loud into the silence. They washed over me and it was not until I finished the piece that I realized I was crying. Poetry has helped me see there is space for my faith to question, to not quite understand, and even to embrace the beauty of mystery. Thank you for the inspiration to begin listening to poetry.

  11. I’ve been meaning to email you about your Depression post, because I just wanted to come give you a hug and some coffee (ooh! or maybe wine), but my arms aren’t long enough to reach from Montana to you. My comments are always so LONG that I feel that occasionally I should just email and not clog up the comment section. Anyway, here’s a partial list of the many thoughts I have for you:
    a. I’m so glad you got on the meds and that the church ladies were so kind. How lovely and vulnerable and life giving. And I’m super glad you are feeling the healing begin. (note: ‘glad’ is too passive of a word to be paired with ‘super’, but let’s go with it. We’ll call it poetic…)
    b. I enjoyed the poetry this month. Honestly poetry is pretty far outside my normal reading, but I liked it. I think. Yup, I did.
    c. excited to hear about all the magazines you listed. Gonna check them out.
    d. I’m hatin’ your haters. I know, not Christian at all. Maybe I’ll work on that. But probably not. I have a pretty long list of things I need to work on and this isn’t high on the list. Mostly I wish that when someone began to type some internet hate that their keyboard would zap them. Not enough to really damage them, just numb their fingers so they couldn’t find the right keys. Then even though it would look like swearing we wouldn’t really have to hear their meanness.
    e. Lovely to hear your voice over the cyber waves this morning.

  12. i rarely set out to write a poem, but often end up in verse when the essay fails to bear fruit. you’re right–some things can cannot be communicated in prose.

    i loved hearing from folks from these lit magazines at FFW. what a great month here, lady!

  13. Thank you for this month of poetry. It’s allowed me to become more confident about reading and loving it. I would love to win one of those magazines. 🙂

  14. Poetry Month flew by, I somewhat missed out, realizing just now that I should have posted a few more of my pieces on my own blog. I love poetry – especially spoken word poetry. I’ve written a few – nothing mind blowing, but it is a way express darkness without wasting words. Not sure if you can send a copy to Canada, but if you can, I’d love to have one.

  15. Addie, after devouring your book in early March, I became a reader of your blog this month, and am so appreciative of the voices you’ve introduced us to here. There is much fruit from these discussions! I am already a subscriber to Image and Ruminate, but you can count me in as wanting a copy of Rock & Sling or Relief!

  16. Thank you for pulling this series of posts together, Addie; it has been such a gift to me. I so agree with what you said about these magazines providing a vital service to the church. They also help create and build community which is so encouraging for artists, because making art as a Christian is a pretty lonely enterprise, in my experience. And I’m grateful that you also helped build that community, too, with these posts!

  17. Poetry has forced me to slow down. I’m student and April is crazy with papers and tests and applications, but poetry is slow.

  18. Well, “I want one!!” …because I do fall into the brain-dead category of April, and as I’m writing this, the giant, silver dollar-sized snowflakes fall from the April sky??!! Yep, Minnesota. But, I do have more to say (as usual 😉 I was gifted a copy of Making Manifest last summer from a dear friend who knew it was just what I needed. Although it would be better if I wasn’t working on it in broken chunks of time, I agree that it is a beautiful place to dwell. And as far as being moved by this poetry month…I was. So I am moved outside my comfort box…I am writing a poem today (as a thank you to someone, instead of my usual thank you card). I am surely not a poet, so it will be second grade level at best. But it will be fun…it will be different…it will be what is in my head…and it will come out in a different format than how it normally comes out of me…and then I will grow because it will be outside my comfort box. Thanks Addie for the inspiration, honesty, depth. Love it all, and you, always!

  19. O yes. This is right where I am and just what I would love. Thanks for all the poetry goodness this month!

  20. Oh Addie,
    I’m right there with you, girl. What a crazy month (right down to the unexpected internet hate, I’m so sorry, lovely).
    Recently, I’ve realized that some of the words that come back to me the most frequently from writing classes, are the ones from poetry class. They baptize and curtail my non-fiction. Also, I’m finding out that more and more of my friends are poets, and there is something wonderful in that. I am thankful for these people, and these words and for this series of yours.

  21. I’m so glad you did this series, Addie. I’ve been going through Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems the last month or so and quite a few have resonated in a soul deep way, the kind where you recognize yourself in unexpected words.

  22. The thing I’ve noticed about poetry this month, both from your blog and from the book of Jane Kenyon poems you inspired me to crack open before bed, is that it slows us down. And in this fast-paced, digest-as-much-as-you-can-quickly-before-it’s-too-late kind of world, we desperately need to be slowed down. Sometimes when I am voraciously reading a gazillion blogs and books that I am in the middle of, flipping more pages and clicking more links, I only become more stressed out. But the language of poetry has silenced me, stopped me in my tracks, and made me listen again, wait, find mystery. Thank you so much for this series.

    And BOO on your internet hate!

  23. I am feeling brain-tired but I will say that poetry has spoken of the accessibility of inner quietness to me. It teaches me to love the sound of another voice that is not mine; one that speaks softly, yet can be heard above the crowd murmur of do more, be more, have more, want more, ask for more.

  24. Addie, I love this series. I’ve only recently begun reading and writing poetry, but it gives me space to breathe and question and doubt.

  25. I was moved. And honestly this series has infused my writing with new material, new energy, and new… light (it is coming, Addie, I promise).

  26. Beautiful, Addie. I love the idea of these breaking through the gates. I’d love a chance to read one!

  27. Poetry has been like a balm to my weary soul this month, speaking the words I can feel in my heart but have trouble getting out of my mouth.

  28. Thanks, Addie, I forgot how much I used to love to string words together to make music. Your tribute to these wonderful poets reminded me and I actually wrote a poem after reading several posts.
    Kathy L.

  29. Good job, Convergent, on letting Addie use all the damn cuss words she wants! (And yes, I love poetry).

  30. I’ve loved this whole series and would love to see any of those first 3 – I subscribe to Image. Thanks, Addie.

  31. Thank you for posting – for being inspiring and for sharing your journey. Poetry has been attempting to re-enter my life in more drastic ways recently as I have a million other things to write, and all I can think about are haiku’s…..it’s a problem, but a good one.

  32. I posted a poem a day on my blog for April and as always it was lovely to see my friends and family respond to the words I chose to share. Also, I did Poem in Your Pocket Day here at my school and passed out poetry in the lunch room. The best part is always seeing students make connections. I pretty much started crying when one of my 6th grade boys took “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou and read it and then looked at me and said, “This poem is true!” Yes! That’s why I wanted you to have it.

  33. I am yet another 20-something struggling with my faith after growing up in an extremely conservative Christian home. Poetry wasn’t discouraged so much as it wasn’t relevant or it wasn’t practical, and I had only read a few things that didn’t connect to me at all, so I thought that I didn’t like poetry or understand it. it wasn’t until I found a few poets who felt like they were talking straight to me, passionately, for me to understand the power in the words. Words have helped me through the gray of depression. I would love a chance to read more poetry and find comfort in it.

  34. National Poetry Month at your blog was an incredible blessing to me. Thank you. Would love to continue reading poetry in the magazines you are giving away.

  35. This past month had me stumbling upon more new poetry than ever . . . such wonderful, thought-provoking prose at that! I’m glad I’ve just now stumbled upon this post, so I can back-track through all of your poetry-month posts, Addie. Thank you for sharing!

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