Whenever Luci Shaw puts together a new poetry collection it's like a drink of cool, fresh water for a thirsty land — the "land" being the artistic community within the evangelical church. Evangelicals do not have a glorious heritage when it comes to the arts. We have been suspicious of whatever can't be nailed down; we produce charts and diagrams to explain the Book of Revelation, depend on commentaries to understand the parables, and trust systematic theologies to be sure God behaves himself.
Luci Shaw has long been a voice crying in this evangelical wilderness. Hers is evangelical, but not evangelistic, poetry. She is not attempting to win arguments but simply to shine light upon the truth in the world around us.
Her previous collection, The Green Earth: Poems of Creation, thematically points to the natural world, and through it shows God's hand. This new book focuses on water in its diverse forms — raindrops, snowflakes, fog, cloud, dew, ice, mountain glaciers, creeks, lakes, oceans, "bathtub water scrolling down the drain," and even the spittle of Christ. Geographically she takes us with her from Cape Cod's Atlantic to British Columbia's Pacific coast; from cool Colorado mountain streams to the insect heat of Texas; and from snorkelling in the Bahamas to the rough, rocky coast of Wales.
Some of the poetry here has appeared in earlier books. Shaw has carefully selected, and in many cases revised, her poems for their appearance in Water Lines. The changes are usually minor (punctuation, line breaks, an occasional word), but they provide a window into the mind of the poet. This reminds me of what French writer Paul Valéry once said: "A poem is never finished, only abandoned." Here Luci Shaw picks up again some of the fine ...1
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Books & Culture's Book of the Week: Cool Drink of Water
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