Kirkus Reviews QR Code
INSPIRED by Shawn N. Graham


Inspirational Poems From the Heart

by Shawn N. Graham

Pub Date: April 20th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1449738105
Publisher: West Hills Press

Graham, in her debut, delivers a well-meaning collection of first-person narrative religious verse.
Should poetry be an expression of the intangible, or should it take a journalistic approach in its documentation of events, thoughts and feelings? This collection favors this latter, direct approach, offering readers precisely the kind of couplets they might expect to find under titles such as “Winter is Approaching” and “It’s You, Lord.” Other poems, such as “Frustrated,” venture into more thoughtful territory: “Life’s joy sometimes seems broken / Life’s peace sometimes seems smeared / But all in all, there’s peace within / When you’re with the one who cares.” Works such as “Jamaica so Grand” serve as direct explorations of the divine: “I’ve travelled the entire Island / And I must surely confess / That God has really blessed this land / It’s paradise at its best.” Occasionally, Graham ventures into wordplay and idiom; “Portland,” for example, attempts to jump beyond traditional expectations by using inventive adjectives, such as “Portlandish.” Graham’s stated mission is to inspire readers, a task that’s difficult to objectively measure. Readers who find great comfort in religion may indeed be inspired. However, those who seek more complexity and nuance may find the poetry too on-the-nose. For example, the structure of “Victory in Jesus” favors a nursery-rhyme cadence to deliver a message of eternal divine love: “The God I know / The God I serve / The God whose love / I don’t deserve. / But yet He looks down / From Heaven above / And keeps me in His presence / And restores me in His love.” The message will undoubtedly be moving to some, but the delivery is unoriginal and the structure is decidedly stale. Although the collection does effectively advocate the idea of caring for oneself and others, it doesn’t break any new ground.
Religious verse that offers few surprises to seasoned readers of poetry.