I wrote this sometime last year & for some reason, got too scared to post it.
Yesterday I wrote a poem – inspired by some Baldwin I had read – about the similarities between the deaths of black people & Jesus, and the churches stance on it all. Before I go on, I’ll say since my last post the SDA church in America has seen to be standing in solidarity with those that are being afflicted, and it’s a beautiful sight. The poem doesn’t reflect that though, & that’s mainly because churches & pastors here (in the UK) are mostly silent on social matters unless it directly impacts the church, e.g. gay marriage *side eye*. Writing it got me thinking about my Christianity & what informs it. I mean, you can’t ignore the religious influence in Baldwin’s poetry but when you read him there is no clear distinction between christianity & the world, it’s all intertwined & mingled in. & I don’t mean the world in the secular sense, I mean it as something that is not explicitly church.
This post was going to be about John & how God had called him to be the revolutionary that he was, but I think I’m going to go in a different direction.
This year has been particularly low for me, in all aspects. I somehow lost myself and the foundation of who I am, and I’m only just regaining it, and it’s a lot to do with the fact that I have began to write & read again. My writing this year has been sporadic, most of it has surrounded a particular series of events & even though those events have ended, it’s like I was still trapped in them. Anyway, yesterday I wrote this poem and I realised that it was the second Christian poem I had written this year and then I got thinking about why I find it so hard to write about God. Since I’ve been performing in church, I’ve had a narrow view of what Christian poetry is/was, and it’s this very rigid kind of writing that only glorifies God and makes the people feel good. It only challenges in the most basic of ways – condemns you for the obvious things, adultery, idolatry, gossiping, etc. But it doesn’t really challenge your thinking or world view. There is one poem that I am 100% comfortable performing in church because it’s safe. It’s a poem I know everyone will like, because it’s fun. The rest of my stuff though? I have been nervous to even label as Christian poetry.
Which brings me on to what informs my writing. My writing is entirely informed by world view, which is informed by how I’ve interpreted the Gospel. My ideals and beliefs are all somehow linked to my faith, my feminism, my fight for racial justice, how I navigate my relationships, all of it is tied to how I believe I should from how Jesus did & how God has said we should. I don’t always get it right, but I do try. My poetry, christian or not, reflects this entirely. Because my writing is a reflection of how I view the world, which is entirely informed by my understanding of scripture, my writing subsequently reflects my understanding of scripture. I can’t ignore the growing list of black murders because I’m a christian & profess to be so, which means fighting for the oppressed, no matter who they are, & in this case they look just like me. My poetry can’t ignore it either.
Which makes me wonder, what is the real difference between my christian poems & my other poems? All of my poetry documents my very human experience, my very human feelings.