April 30, 2012

Are Christian publishers afraid of poetry?


Christian or not, book publishers have the same goal: Selling books. And Christian or not, book editors surely do not want to risk the reputations of their companies or themselves by publishing books apt to have few sales. That’s understandable, but if Christians are to be the head and not the tail of publishing trends, perhaps we might reconsider.

Would we have the poetry of Dante, Milton, Herbert, or Eliot if they were seeking publication today?

Would poems by Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins find a place in our society?

Why does Amazon show 5,240 results for “spiritual poetry” and 22,634 for “religious poetry books” with many new titles released by traditional publishing companies, while 10,453 titles for “Christian poetry” merely include poems by Christians or present the works of poets long dead or overflow with self-published poetry that often demonstrates little thought of readers and no editorial input?

Readers, movie-goers, and television-watchers show an avid, sometimes morbid, interest in the afterlife and spiritual realm, so the “market” is obviously there, and the field is wide. Lord willing, I’ll post an overview of the exquisite Torah-based poetry of a Jewish poet this week on the Bible People blog because I am delighted to see poetry on a literary level bring Judeo-Christian scriptures to life. But we need more Christian poets and writers who speak in an educated, poetic voice to spiritual seekers.

We need more artistically winsome ways to win over people who see the church as irrelevant and win back Christians who have fallen away.

We need more Christian publishers ready to take a stand and take a chance that, yes, all genres have power. Poetry has power, and from the beginning – in the very beginning – was the most highly poetic Word.

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© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. For articles on a variety of Bible topics, see Blogs by Mary. May God bless and guide our work in Jesus’ Name.
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