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Reviews

Prayer, Praise and Poetry

Susan Champion
Xlibris UK (Dec 6, 2017)
Softcover $20.99 (200pp)
978-1-5434-8814-2

Prayer, Praise and Poetry is a reflective poetry collection that shows reverence for nature and God.

Susan Champion’s Prayer, Praise and Poetry is an uplifting collection that shows a thorough knowledge of scripture.

The collection’s themes include faith, maturation, war, and loss. Verses are formal and often religious, though not all poems are religiously informed. Christianity is ingrained in many lines, even in poems that fit with a more wide-reaching worldview: angels send comfort and joy; the audience is encouraged to “be amazed at creation.”

Poems often end with judiciously chosen biblical quotes, especially in the opening “Praise” section, where poems take on a searching tone. The collection’s religious orientation is also evident in poetic explorations of questions like “Have you ever been trapped in a sea of sadness?” and “What Can I Do?”

The collection also traffics in observations and more mundane matters like personal debt. Non-religious poems include an Edward Lear homage and a whimsical fairy-tale riff, as well as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. Topical issues, including Brexit, are also covered.

Moving and heartfelt personal poems are included as well, with a series on the anniversary of the poet’s husband’s death. These vividly capture the mourning process and look forward to “perhaps strolling [together] on a celestial shore.” The poet’s life, which included time in Africa, is also reflected in expressed concern for elephants in “Bang! Bang!” and “Gangs” and in the strongly narrated, sentimental “Tribute to Nelson Mandela.”

Poems draw suitably from classical formats, with paired couplets and rigid meters, and traditional influences are apparent in their references. Stanzas are tight, scanning in textbook fashion. Inconsistent rhyme schemes and overly easy, awkward, or forced rhymes undermine some lines.

Across the collection, the dated poems evolve from basic rhymes and rhyme schemes to more complex ones. They have a consistent sing-song flavor and are organized thematically. Despite varying subject matter, the collection is coherent and consistent in tone, with a well-honed perspective.

Complete poetic stories are built upon descriptions, as in “The Quiet Man,” where concrete language conveys a character’s alienation well; the title man

 knows no sound
The call of a blackbird, or the bark of a hound
He speaks with his hands, but few understand
This language of the quiet man.

Some poems are moralistic; some are funny. All get their intended messages across.

Prayer, Praise and Poetry is a reflective poetry collection that shows reverence for nature and God

JOSEPH S. PETE (July 25, 2018).


TITLE INFORMATION

PRAYER, PRAISE AND POETRY
Susan Champion
XlibrisUK (200 pp.)
$34.59 hardcover, $19.34 paperback, $4.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1-5434-8815-9; December 6, 2017

 

BOOK REVIEW

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 vernacula —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.

 

 

Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Rd., Austin, TX 78744
indie@kirkusreviews.com


Prayer, Praise and Poetry
Susan Champion
Xlibris, 187 pages, (paperback) $19.71, 9781543488142
(Reviewed: July, 2018)

Susan Champion’s poetry collection covers the gamut thematically, from a philosophical piece about fate to a practical poem about New Year’s resolutions and many stops in between.

Champion’s book includes more than 100 rhyming poems, many accompanied by a Bible verse postscript. “A Place to Belong” is typical of the poet’s message and style: “The place He belongs/ Is not on this Earth/ Yet He came down from heaven/ To give us new birth […]”

The collection is divided into seven sections. The first, “PRAISE,” is comprised of poems delivering an evangelical message of peace, joy, and salvation through Christ: “There is a way out, but you have to shout/ Lord, I can’t do this alone!/ Open the door and let me out/ Show me the way to go home.”

The next section, “OUR PLANET,” focuses on the dangers of climate change;; the third, “ON A LIGHTER NOTE,” mixes social commentary on various subjects with further religious admonitions. And the final sections—“WAR,” “KIDS,” “BEREAVEMENT,” and “AND FINALLY”— alternate between personal reflections and generalized advice, such as, “Learn how to be a woman or a man/ To face the world as best you can.”

The poems express familiar sentiments concerning faith, hope, love and the natural world. Those seeking startlingly fresh insights and literary poetic accomplishments won’t find it here. The work can also be a bit heavy-­handed in the messages it imparts.

Still, the rhyming is skillful and the poet often employs welcome humor and fun twists. For example, a poem in which the speaker yearns to have the capabilities of various animals —a bird, cat, fish and kangaroo—ends with a wink and a simple lesson: “I wish that I’d stop wishing/ For something else to be/ For God made me the way I am/ So that I could just be me.”

Readers seeking sophisticated modern poetry won’t find it here. But Champion’s collection should appeal to those who enjoy light-­inspirational and Christian-­religious verse.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.


Title: Prayer, Praise and Poetry
Author: Susan Champion
Publisher: XlibrisUK
ISBN: 9781543488135
Pages: 200
Genre: Poetry
Reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

 

Pacific Book Review

Susan Champion’s (mostly) poetry book is both personal and heartfelt. Prayer, Praise and Poetry is broken down into seven sections. Reading it, one gets the sense that the best way Champion has found to respond to the circumstances in her life, is to write artfully about them. Not just write but write smart rhymes. So, in a culture where too many people post ungrammatical and lame comments on what’s going on in the world on Facebook, Champion turns her thoughts and feelings into literature – which is a far better approach.

The book’s first part is simply titled “Praise.” Poems under this moniker primarily concern Champion’s thoughts about God, and more specifically, her Christian life. In many cases, these poems are footnoted by scriptures that inspired them. While many of these pieces are positive, awe-inspired thoughts about the God revealed in The Bible, not everything is all sweetness and light. For example, “A Terrible Beauty” is about Satan himself. He was once one of God’s beautiful angels, but as this piece reminds us: “But his pride and ambition/Caused demolition.” Thoughts about one’s faith always involve meditations on both good and evil, and this particular one speaks of the darkness. Also, not everything in the book is a straight poem, however, because “Marty” is a short story that paraphrases a Bible story.

A second part is named “Our Planet.” With these poems, Champion reflects upon nature. For instance, “African Memories” mixes a love of nature with her love of God. Within it, Champion writes: “I thank you God for your wonderful world/All the creatures you’ve allowed us to glimpse.” The third section is called “On a Lighter Note.” These are lighter works, yes, but Champion still has her thinking cap on. One titled “Food/Drink” comments: “Food adverts bombard our screen/This fizzy drink will make you dream.” It this case, Champion was inspired to write after being assaulted by TV advertising.

Part four is named “War,” and Champion writes about all sorts of military conflicts, and how these horrible events affect people. These include thoughts about world wars, Biblical battles and some contemporary issues. In “War (Aftermath),” Champion writes: “As the result of this war/We live in the ruins.” This could be said of most every war, actually. War really is an ugly blight on our world and does nobody any good. Champion knows this. This collection’s fifth section, “Kids,” includes works about children and growing up. “Incredible Journey” is a poem about life; one where all can relate to it, both young and old. “What an incredible journey we all must make,” Champion enthuses, “As we travel through this life.” Children may not see life this way – yet – but older folks (hopefully) do. It is a journey, which is many times unpredictable. Even when we get older, though, the journey continues.

Champion follows the chapter about kids, with one called “Bereavement.” With these poems, Champion faces the loss of loved ones – sometimes counting the years since another one’s passed on. These are extremely personal lines, and one senses they were a necessity for Champion to write. The last part is simply titled, “And Finally.” It includes her tribute to Nelson Mandela and “Wild Swans,” in honor of Queen Elizabeth 2nd on her 90th birthday. Both are much alike, yet each wouldn’t have fit into the other segments, so she created a special folder for just for this pair.

Susan Champion covers a lot of ground with this book, and because it’s so wide ranging, the reader is led to believe she’s lived an eventful life. Thankfully, she’s shared some of the best bits of this life in her wonderful Prayer, Praise and Poetry.