Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Making of a Poet

 “Thou hast set my feet in a wide room.” Psalm 31:8
Somewhere along the way of our educational journey my children became poets. The Lord knows I didn't have much of a hand in it. I just followed Miss Mason's simple advice: Read poetry aloud for a few minutes a day. Eschew anthologies. Instead, dwell with one poet at a time over an extended period of time. We didn't have lessons and we didn't analyze the deep meanings behind them.  We simply enjoyed the cadence and the images that those beautiful words brought to mind. It wasn't until the high school years that we began to study the structure of poetry and this was borne out of a deep childhood appreciation that the children developed through our brief, daily poetry readings. It profoundly affected my children. Poetry has become one of the chief modes of communication for my two oldest daughters and it is well on its way to capturing the hearts of my two younger children.

One day, a few years ago, my oldest daughter Bryana, entered a poetry contest--and won. Unbeknownst to me, she quietly began submitting her poetry to other contests and poetry journals for publication. Since that day, she has won thousands of dollars in contests and has had her poems published in numerous magazines and journals.  A few weeks ago, with trembly fingers, she presented to me the manuscript of a collection of poems she was about to have published. "Do you like them, Mom?"

I read the poems and found my eyes filling with water. Not because she can write poetry but because she cares.

"The question is not, 
-- how much does the youth know? 
when he has finished his education 
-- but how much does he care?
Charlotte Mason

Bryana writes:

My first full-length collection of poetry, Having Decided To Stay, is an exploration in verse of G.K. Chesterton’s assertion that, “gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” Drawing from classical literature, popular culture, personal experience and the awe of the untamed wild, these poems were spun out of the spilling over of an overwhelmed heart.

Praise For Having Decided To Stay:

"This collection is a feast, and it goes to show that although God said ‘not many wise are called,’ a few do get through."  Andrée Seu Peterson, Senior Writer, WORLD Magazine

"Having Decided To Stay surprises and delights with fresh phrases, sharp images and bright sounds. Bryana Johnson’s first collection of poetry establishes her as a Christian poet who communicates the gutsy, bleeding beat of life and death. Although the volume includes a number of poems founded in Christian thought and Bible text, this book is not a collection of ‘religious poetry.’ It is too creative, too crafted and too challenging to be so simply labeled. It is a collection that restores our confidence that there are poets who labor over the word, and who have something to say that the world needs to hear."  Nathan Harms, Director, Utmost Christian Writers Foundation

"These poems are works of elegance…In a voice both compassionate and compelling, Bryana presents her readers with works that examine what it means to be human and how our very faults and foibles can, in the end, become instruments of grace." Wendy Galgan, editor of Assisi 

"Having Decided to Stay is a promising debut and already a considerable achievement. Bryana’s “trembly-fingered” poems bound and careen with both honesty and joy. They are equally in love with great books and the wild world, the former perhaps more deserving of that love, the latter more desperate for it."  John Savoie, Ph.D. Yale, Professor at Southern Illinois University

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

one step at a time...


  1. How neat, Linda! Congrats to your daughter and what an encouragement to keep at Miss Mason's ideas!!! Just to be faithful and not fuss!

  2. Linda
    I've long been a fan of your blog, I’d love to share with you about my excitement about the launching of the Homeschool High School Carnival!!:)

    I'd love to have you join us, I believe you have much to offer:)

  3. Isn't it nice when the fruit ripens that has been sown day after day. But she would have to be a remarkable young lady, as she follows after her mommy.

  4. Amen.

    So encouraging.

    So Beautiful.

    Thank you.