“Currently life is rich and terrifying, and I am finding that writing poetry is a most useful expression of my faith, which right now includes exercising my doubts. Doubt, after all, is a necessary component of faith. How else do we become sure of truth?” – Charity Gingerich
Charity Gingerich’s poems exploded upon us like a mature shrub of lilacs in full flower. The Journal of the Center for Mennonite Writing is pleased to present a selection of these poems for the first time in this issue. Of the first three poems included here, Gingerich writes: “ ‘Some Days Walking Alone,’ ‘Deserving’ and ‘To Sugar Grove Road’ came at the end of an intense, almost visceral cycle of Lenten prayer poems I wrote this spring. I had not realized until now how ‘useful’ writing poetry could be beyond merely intellectual and artistic stimulation. It became an act of the body that nourished the spirit.”
With their long, lush lines, Gingerich’s poems reveal a passion for language and life that is distinctive and compelling, and a sensibility that is steeped in the Mennonite tradition of service to others and a reverence for the natural world.
Austin Hummel, editor of Passages North, has said of Gingerich’s poems, “[they are] ambitious, backward-glancing poems. They speak with an exile’s voice, though with a heart trained not on the self, but on others.” Humble but eager to share her poetic discoveries, Gingerich said of Hummel’s response to her work: “At first I felt strangely ‘exposed,’ as if someone—and a stranger no less—had uncovered a secret of mine. But my consternation mellowed when I realized that this really is a confirmation of what I hope to do/be as a poet, as a person. I want my work to transcend, not just in that otherworldliness that is poetry (sometimes), but I want to transcend the “I-myself,” the “I-as-narcissist.” I want my poetry to be more than just about me.”
We concur that these fine poems offer many rewards to readers. We hope you will enjoy this gift of poetry: lilacs in November. -- AH