July 7, 2018
As Wendy McFadden introduced the session “Poetry: Read It. Write It,” she remarked that it is the first or only insight session on the specific topic of poetry that she is aware of in her history with Annual Conference. If that is the case, Ken Gibble stepped up to the plate.
Gibble began by asking how many of us read poetry on a regular basis, and then, how many of us write poetry. He asked knowing that many people see poetry as inaccessible, something they just don’t “get.” His response was to say, “Poetry is not something you ‘get.’ Rather it is something you discover”–or perhaps it discovers you.
Gibble’s experience with poetry was similar to others. We first heard simple poetry as children, often in Sunday school, eventually studying poetry and specific poets in high school and perhaps college. Gibble wrote poetry and hymn texts occasionally, then began reading and writing poetry on a daily basis only after he retired from the pastorate.
We started to suspect that he was going to ask us to write as be began listing the elements of poetry:
Poems can rhyme, but do not
need to they can be free
verse. Psalms for example
use parallelism a kind of
meaning rhyme. The poetry
repeating a thought like a rhyme.
Poems also have a rhythm or
meter, figurative language
stanzas, shape, mood…
strong words. “Move in
Our Midst” uses 20 verbs
Move, Go, Lead, Touch
in four short stanzas.
Most poems use an economy
of words, a few well chosen
that power the poetic images.
Gibble’s favorite poetry tells a story, and might also stretch and surprise the reader. His poems in the new Brethren Press book “A Poetry of the Soul” are story poems.
Gibble began a list of thought starters:
The Lord is…
If I could…
When I was a child…
O God you are…
Now you and I are ready to write our poems.
— Karen Garrett contributed this report.
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