Very up-to-the-minute and very apt words! I couldn’t have done better myself! And that is a most egotistical remark because this quote comes from the pen of a great Christian writer in 1847 – none other than Charlotte Bronte writing in
Jane Eyre! It would seem that times haven’t changed… And she was writing in the romantic era of poetry ( Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats) and of William Cowper, poet and hymn writer, so it’s an enigmatic and interesting remark!
However, I’m writing about present-day Christian poetry. Now the web is awash with Christian poetry –everyone seems to think - whether they versify sermons, express devout feelings by rhyming, write doggerel, or chop up prose –
that they are writing Christian poetry. And it’s a very good thing. But are all these poets the next Milton? Only time will tell, but very few will even be truly good poets, read in fifty years’ time. Nonetheless we all hope.
Some to whom “poetry is my passion” even go to study creative writing at university. Such courses are very good for marketing, media, legal and other documents, and even for writing a novel. However I don’t believe
one can learn how to be a poet of worth. It’s a gift, and a rare one, and if one writes Christian poetry, one that is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Knowing what I now know, what would I do or not do if I was setting out on my long poetic journey?
I wouldn’t submit poems to Christian magazines – many have stopped using them.
I would do a BA, preferably at a Christian university, majoring in English – invaluable for assessing one’s work.
I’d try to get my book published by a publisher of the Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association (www.ecpa.org ). For this I would pay about $100 for 6 months exposure to Christian Manuscript Submission ( www.christianmanuscriptsubmissions.com). However, most publishers do not accept poetry so I would check before parcelling up my precious package!
If I really wanted a book in my hands to give to friends and family or to sell, I’d try self –publishing as many famous authors have had to do in the past! But be careful, self-publishers are sprouting like weeds in a garden. I can recommend Winepress Publishing which published my book (www.winepresspublishing.com ).
Self-publishing can become very expensive and time consuming. I would opt for print on demand.
Today I would use the internet – the audience is vast and if I wanted to use my poems as a service, this is by far the best way. It is also the cheapest. I would register a domain name with a service provider, design a website- or get someone to do it for me - and use a free site from, for example, Weebly (www.weebly.com ). (If one has
self-published a book, one can even sell it from one’s site. Remember though, Christian poetry books are a bad seller unless one happens to be a very well-known personality.)
I would use Google Analytics to track my site –also free.
If I needed advice, I would consult Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide (www.stuartmarket.com)
Here is a great religious poem, possibly the best-loved by Christians
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures:
he leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul;
he leads me in the paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies:
you anoint my head with oil,
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Written by David several centuries BC
Psalm 23: 1-6 KJV