Tag Archives: Christian writers

Rise Up! Poems of Protest, Poems of Praise, by Andrew Wilbert Fitz and Mari Fitz-Wynn

Call and response: a powerful form of protest. Andrew Wilbert Fitz was the child of a couple born into slavery, the middle of eleven children. He lived through two world wars, went to college, patented new inventions, and wrote poetry. His granddaughter, Mari Fitz-Wynn, has curated a collection of his poems and added her own, responding to his call across a century, sharing his sorrow at our human sins and reflecting his strong Christian faith with her own.

Mari has arranged this collection so that her grandfather speaks first with his poems, then Mari presents a poem of her own, sometimes on the same theme. Using various verse forms, the poems are often meditations on scriptural passages, and Mari, in particular, has structured several of her poems as liturgies that could be used in communal settings. Praise for the beauty of creation is woven throughout, from the exultation of “Creation and I” to the joyful skipping verse in “Nature’s Symphony.” There are poems of encouragement, motivating the reader to use their God-given gifts and to generate ideas that will further the Kingdom on earth. One of the most powerful selections is “Dead Soldier,” which Andrew addressed to the young men in their graves, saying, in part:

“… tell of the heartless heads of government,

the kings, the princes, and the presidents,

who sent you forth to die for an empty cause

despising God and all His sacred laws.”

Throughout this collection are poems of lament, an outpouring of sorrow rarely heard in white churches today, although the Hebrew scriptures are filled with lament, particularly in the Psalms. Throughout the millennia, believers have cried out to God in private grief, but also in communal prayer that God would acknowledge injustice and send healing and comfort. Andrew’s parents spent their early years in bondage, and later he went on to serve in World War I and live through Jim Crow and the Civil Rights struggles of the mid-twentieth century. He saw that the government enforced these evil laws and that the white church rationalized the terror from the pulpit. He asks, “How long shall prejudice be mixed with prayer?” Mari, lamenting that our world still labors in sin, responds with her “Hands Up—A Litany,” asking for freedom from fear and concluding with praise.

I had the pleasure of working with Mari Fitz-Wynn at our library, as well as with her two grown children, Kiefer and Rooney, who wrote an afterword to this book. They are all kind and quiet souls, and her kids have gone on to pursue brilliant careers. After her husband passed away fifteen years ago, Mari began speaking at home education conferences and other venues and participating in creative entrepreneurial projects. In addition to this volume of poetry, which contains a foreword written by the Poet Laureate of North Carolina, Mari has published two books and many articles.

This inspiring collection may be purchased on Amazon or from Faith Journey Publishing, a company dedicated to giving a voice to mature Christian women of color.

Disclaimer: I own a copy of this book, given to me by the author. Opinions expressed are solely my own and may not reflect those of my employer or anyone else. I do not receive remuneration from the purchase of this book.

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Boys of Blur, by N.D. Wilson

Boys of BlurCharlie and his mother are back in Florida for the funeral of his step-dad’s high school coach. They are surrounded by fields of sugar cane, and it’s cane-burning time. Charlie finds out that he has a cousin, Cotton, and as the boys run through the fiery fields chasing rabbits, Charlie begins to have hallucinations about evil, undead creatures that smell horrible and bring up all kinds of anger and hatred in the humans they encounter. When Cotton brings Charlie to the sacrificial stone where dead animals are laid, the boys are surprised by Lio, a heroic young man wearing a beat-up helmet and wielding a sword. Strangely, the adults don’t think Charlie is hallucinating, and they seem to know a lot more about the area’s dark history than the boys do. As the evil creatures draw nearer, the townspeople begin to fight and riot for no reason. Cotton is badly hurt, and it’s up to Charlie to save his life by struggling to undo a curse he doesn’t understand.

Wilson draws on the story of Beowulf to craft a modern tale dealing with small-town football, family ties, and the reality of evil. Charlie’s biological father is white, and his step-father is black, and racial diversity is portrayed within one mostly loving group of people. The monsters are called “the Gren,” after Grendel, and the Grens’ mother is the power behind it all. I particularly enjoyed that the wicked mother is tall and thin, whereas the good mom, Mrs. Wisdom, is “soft” and wrinkled. Of course. This story is quite frightening at times, with breathless chase scenes and fantastical places mixing with the swamps of Florida’s sugar-cane area. Gators and Gren, panthers and burial mounds, cypress and sorceresses.

Nate WilsonNathan Wilson has had the sort of classical education that allows him to throw Latin phrases into his heroes’ mouths, and he writes complex books for kids who are good readers. While his prose can be beautifully poetic at times, it is always accessible to his young audience. He is a Christian, and although he doesn’t write “Christian books” (can a book be saved?), he writes with the worldview of good vs. evil and heroic virtues that will resonate with believers. It’s not fashionable these days to say “boy books” and “girl books,” but Wilson writes excellent books for boys. If you’ve been raising your kids on Narnia and Lord of the Rings, here’s your next writer, particularly his “100 Cupboards” series.

A heart-pounding story for courageous kids from nine to fifteen.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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