by Ami McConnell
Harper Collins Christian Publishing
I have a real weakness for modern poetry, especially what scholars refer to as “confessional poetry.”
At the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville last month, I attended a confessional poetry reading that really blew my mind.
If you’ve ever been, you know that the Festival happens in Nashville’s Legislative Plaza on the weekend. Our Tennessee Legislature is not in session, so readings take place in the decades-old meeting rooms. So there we were-a motley group of nerdy, loner types waiting for the poets, sitting in folding chairs. On a dais in front of us, high-backed leather chairs flanked a horseshoe-shaped board table. A gavel rested in front of one particular chair. We waited and then finally the poets arrived. They both walked up to the lectern to take turns reading. It felt pretty stuffy at first.
But something amazing happened.
As the poets began reading, they poured out beautifully-shaped poems ripe with vitality and emotion. Gradually, each of us in the room became vulnerable-empathetic in a way we’d never dream of if we ran into one another, say, in a grocery store or at a gas station. There was weeping. And laughter. And afterward, during the “Q&A,” listeners shared their own stories, tenderly offering up bits of themselves. We were compassionate with one another, listening attentively, offering Kleenex as needed. Why? Because these confessional poets had first offered their most intimate selves to us via their art. In fact, they were inviting us to commune with them. (Does this remind anyone of John 1?)
My novelists friends, my deep desire is that together we will publish novels that invite communion–communion first between you-by way of your novel-and your individual reader. Then, God-willing, each reader will invite communion with others. Does that sound as beautiful to you as it does to me?
Are you willing to be vulnerable and brave in your novels-to share who you really are-for the sake of holy communion?