CHRIST'S WALK WITH ME by Peggy Kennedy


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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, clichéd 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 “everything leads to You.” More intriguing are moments when Kennedy expands her poetic persona beyond piety to real-world problems. “Crossroads” 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 “Find 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, “The Living Dead” attempts to compare all of sinning humanity to the “howling 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.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4196-7953-7
Program: Kirkus Indie
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