A debut collection of poetry delivers prayers, praise, and much more.
From its title, readers might assume that Champion’s verse collection is purely devotional—a compendium of poems about religious life. And the author certainly plays well in that key, crafting many poignant testimonies to the power of belief. Her spiritual poems often take Bible verses as their starting points and reflect on the wisdom of Scripture. So “Trapped” builds on the work of the psalmist, who writes in the 40th chapter of that book: “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.” Champion expands on this hopeful promise: “Have you ever been trapped, just feeling so weary? / Depression will make you burst / Have you ever known someone whom you loved dearly? / Who no longer has your trust….There is a way out, but you have to shout / Lord, I can’t do this alone!” In this and other pieces, the author updates the biblical message, rendering it in an approachable vernacular—sometimes in rhyme and sometimes not—that welcomes readers in. But the great joy of this rewarding volume is that it engages a host of other themes too. Champion seems to realize that faith is one part of a life fully lived, and her collection tries to capture a wide cross section of such an existence. So there are poems here about Earth, the delight of children, and lost loved ones. One topic in particular that she returns to again and again is Africa, where the poet spent much of her life. She has fond memories of her former home, and she waxes lyrical when writing about it: “I returned to South Africa / Land of dreams, and streams, and stunning sunsets / Horizons which stretch to infinity / Where oceans meet, and collide / In which dolphins play and then hide.” Such poems show Champion’s dexterity and prove that she can write well in a variety of modes.
A capacious, satisfying volume of poetry.