Tag Archives: Mari Fitz-Wynn

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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Take Heart, by Mari Fitz-Wynn

Take HeartA couple of months ago, the adult nonfiction selector in our library system came over to my desk holding a new book, pointing to the author’s name. “Is this our Mari?” she asked. I looked at the name. “Well, I know that her last name is Wynn, and she did homeschool.” We were both amazed that a woman with whom we work every day had written a book and didn’t tell us!

Some of Mari’s older children had already started a traditional school when she and her husband decided that they want to teach their kids at home. Two of her children have learning disabilities, while others are natural students, so she has covered the gamut of learning styles and teaching methods. Take Heart: 26 Steps to a Healthy Home School is a gathering of much of the wisdom and knowledge of a mother of six over a span of eighteen years.  Mari takes the 26 letters of the alphabet and discusses a home schooling topic for each one. For example, C is for character, E is for expectations, P is for pitfalls, and S is for support groups.

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Mari Fitz-Wynn

This slender volume offers practical advice on many issues, such as burnout and unit studies, but it really glows when Mari offers support and assurance. I have to admit that I was surprised to learn that Mari has been a speaker at homeschool conventions, since she is probably the quietest woman I have ever met. However, she certainly has many valuable things to say! Her sweet, calm presence shines through these pages to offer guidance when younger moms might be frustrated or discouraged. Coming from a thoroughly Christian worldview, she offers prayer and scripture to lead moms through the tough times or to offer praise for the privilege of spending our lives with our children.

Testimony time! Two of Mari’s children, a son and a daughter, have worked with us at library administration. I knew them both years before I met Mari, and they are living proof of her success in childrearing. They were hard workers, kind, respectful, and reliable— everything mothers everywhere want their children to be. We sent them off with fabulous reviews. Her daughter went on to graduate school in Australia and is now an office administrator for a local health and nutrition company, and her son is finishing up his senior year in college and working as a tutor. They were both proofreaders and editors for Take Heart.

Congratulations, Mari! Beautifully done.

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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