Last weekend I went to the Oregon Christian Writers fall one-day conference. It was a great conference filled with inspiring moments and lessons to learn. There were take-aways that will be incorporated into the poetry book I’m working on, but there was also a new poem I wrote.
One of the break-out sessions I went to was “How Not to Write a Christian Poem.” We talked about what makes a poem a “Christian poem.” My thought was that it must have an underlying Christian theme or worldview. Another comment was that it should glorify God—I liked that, too. We read a few poems and talked about whether we thought they were Christian. For some poems there was agreement, for others there wasn’t.
Of course, beauty and goodness are in the eye of the beholder, and I might like a poem you don’t, and vice versa. In the final analysis, though, we learned that a good Christian poem should:
- not be overly laden with “Christianese”
- not be trite or include over-used language
- not be dull and boring
- not be overly sentimental (I’m not sure how the presenter defined this)
- be based on truth and the author’s experience
As part of the session, we each wrote a poem in the space of about 5 minutes. I thought I’d share mine just as I wrote it there. It needs some work to be a finished poem, but I liked the direction it went under the time pressure I was facing.
sickness and pain, busy-ness and loss
seemingly at random in my path
deterrents to my dream
The American dream of success and great gain
What is my dream?
A nightmare it seems has
overtaken me instead
Chaos in my world, in my mind
I thought I knew what was best
but Your detours have led me
to the real dream