An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
PILGRIMAGES an anthology of Christian Verse
edited by Walter Nash
Feather Books
PO Box 438
ISBN 1 84175 224 X 13.99 [$28 US]

email Feather Books
visit the website of Feather Books

NHI review home page
FAQ page
Notes for Publishers

book reviews
other media

Web design by Gerald England
This page last updated: 10th December 2007.

This substantial volume of poetry is dedicated to the memory of Laurie Bates. Laurie Bates belonged to St Mary and St Cuthbert, Chester-le-Street. The editor, Walter Nash, is a retired professor of English living in the Canary Islands. Nash says, in his introduction that:

For this volume, I have selected 176 poems, sifting and sampling through Poetry Church in its seasonal and annual issues from over the past decade, and some 40 chapbook collections from the same period. It has been a pleasant labour, but one that has obliged me to ask, more than occasionally, a serious question. What, after all, makes a poem "Christian", or "religious" apart from the company it keeps, which is not a negligible qualification?
This is always problematic for reviewers. How is it to be assessed on literary merit, or as a Christian form of celebration, fellowship, worship, and encouragement? As the Christian emphasis and pastoral role is strong throughout, it must be considered to be foremost a book of Christian faith.

John Waddington-Feather, editor of Poetry Church, gives a short foreword. Waddington-Feather has tirelessly devoted himself to Christian elements in the form of words and hymns including local dialect and story, for which he has considerable talent.

The book is divided into 12 sections. The first section is called THE LIGHT BREAKS THROUGH and terminates with a poem by Laurie Bates called LIGHT AND LITANY:

	Walk back from the light with your private face
	eroded by years and wars, by cares and fears;
	take off their rosy glasses and your false halo,
	you have the callow look of fisted clay,
	the medieval mason's crude wistful effigy
	of common humanness that is your fellow:
	gargoyles yearn in air, weep and wear
	their stony hearts away, and though we shed no tear,
	we also grieve who know we fall so far below.
Section 8 is called IMAGES AND WORDS, and this section contains a poem by Caroline Glyn called ST MARK which also refers to the interior:
	Running alone through the darkening empire,
	Shouting into the watching silence,
	Scattering the sand of the firelit streets
	In the burning spray of divine impatience.
A short biography of Caroline Glyn is given at the back of the book. She wrote copiously before and after entering the order of the Poor Clares.

In THE WINTER TREE, Joan Sheridan Smith speaks of hope and the need to give for the homeless of the world. The poem is reproduced in its entirety:

	Beaded with blossom, hung with haggard leaves,
	a symbol of this winter, come so late
	that bulbs thrust up thin fingers to the cold.
	Will hope that comes so premature to birth
	speak to the darkened earth?
	A world not ready yet to welcome him
	still leaves the homeless poor outside the inn.
The topic of bridges and how to cross them, is a recurrent theme in Christian life. In BRIDGE, by Isabella Strachan, the subject of the "new beginning" is given emphasis. As in the above poem about blossom, there is a sense of journey and personal struggle:
	The new bridge stretches, steel nerved.
	High-sided vehicles drive over it.
	The old bridge is an irrelevance.
	The river as a boundary's been rubbed out;
	in drought a set of stepping stones would do,
	and children don't play Pooh sticks any more.
	Yet somehow you're at peace, standing there,
	and no one uses it for suicide.
This is a devotional book, giving a wide range of perspectives in the form of poetry.

reviewer: Doreen King.