Christian poetry that avoids blunders, but never distinguishes itself.
Kennedy’s collection avoids many of the problems marring contemporary religious poetry, including lockstep ABAB meters, brainwashed repetition of Christmas-card pieties, clichÃ©d images of sanctimony and condescension toward non-believers. The poems are metrically varied–sometimes matching meters and rhymes in couplet form, and sometimes almost entirely free-form. Still, the collection is plain-spoken and conservative. The poems fall into several distinct subcategories. Many are purely devotional, reiterating that â€œeverything leads to You.” More intriguing are moments when Kennedy expands her poetic persona beyond piety to real-world problems. â€œCrossroads” examines a marriage’s potential dissolution due to the husband’s lack of religion. The language is near-sexual, as Kennedy expounds on her need to â€œFind my needs that you just cannot fulfill / In others, in God’s will.” This ties in with the many poems in which Kennedy vaguely alludes to a past evidently marred by gambling and joyless promiscuity. (In one of the collection’s few and puzzling tangles with metaphor, â€œThe Living Dead” attempts to compare all of sinning humanity to the â€œhowling werewolf, zombie or vampire,” a link made through our need for Christ’s blood.) Though Kennedy’s devotion–adamant but not particularly exclusionary–is refreshingly undidactic, it’s also undistinguished. The plain language and plainer poetry lack the spark of inspiration that allows religious verse to reach readers besides those seeking affirmation and company in their own belief. In particular, Kennedy’s vague allusion to past depression and sin is toothless; everything is channeled back toward Jesus, giving no sense of real change or contrast.
A pleasant, if uninspired, collection for the already converted.