Wordsworth had defined poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” This statement has proven to be correct in all time by many different poets. There can be no other definition more accurate than this. Joseph S. Spence Sr. proves this correct in his poetry volume, “Sincerely Speaking Spirituality”.
On the surface, the book seems to be merely a collection of poetry writing. But on looking into the poems closely, the reader can understand that there is a lot more than just simple poetry writing. The cover of the book in itself comes as a solace giving image firstly, with the image of Jesus being shown in the sky and all earth beings on the land. This includes not only humans but also animals. Somewhere, this suggests the poet’s idea of harmony between humans, animals, and nature. The touch of the color blue completes the image and gives relaxation to the mind of the reader. Even if he is stressed out at all, he gets ready to open the book and read through.
The foreword and the preface, in the beginning, serve to be a fine introduction to the poetry volume. They highlight the remarkable talent of the poet and how he has attempted to impart his acquired knowledge and wisdom from his travels and shared it with his readers through his work. The preface defines poetry as “The World’s Dynamic Process”. This can be interpreted as a modern take on the definition of poetry based on the discretion of present-day writers. Also, there is an elaborate discussion on “Poetic Prayers” in the preface. This seems like an appeal of the poet to the readers to not run after worldly, materialistic pleasures and rather take the path that would bring them closer to God and nature and hence give them much more tranquility. In a brief forward by Rev. Brady E. Coleman, he writes,
“Like a cup of cool water to one who is thirsty, I hope that this poetry book gives you spiritual refreshment and rejuvenation.”
This becomes a clear indication of the refreshing experience that this volume of poetry is going to be for the reader.
The poems are divided into 5 sections. He explores the different sides of his poetry writing kyu in these 5 sections. In the first section, he explores the spiritual side. In the second section, he explores his evolved genre of Poetic Prayer. In the third, he explores his invented poetic forms. This is perhaps where he has experimented the most and shows the influence of the literary canon on his poetic style. Section four has epulaeryu poems and section five is more of a poetic glossary.
The beauty of Spence Sr. lies in the fact that he does not follow any definite poetic meter and chooses to write as per his natural ability. There can be short poems like “Church Dinner” or “The best taste” and at the same time, poems like “Your time has come” or “Concluding Prayer”. This only adds and makes his poems appear much more original and a treat to the lovers of poetry. At times, his poems in “Sincerely Speaking Spirituality” are very short and crisp and sometimes they become equivalent to a prose text. The poet writes some very beautiful lines in poems like “Mothers” when he says,
“Resting a child’s head, they simmer
a cry with such a hush.”
And in “Covenant Made”,
“The mandate was laid.
A covenant with God made
To share and persuade.
His love came down upon us.
Blessing others in His trust!”
His dramatic monologue, “Escaped in a basket: Paul Bringing God’s Light” is on masterpiece which reminds the reader of Robert Browning.
The presence of the power of God pervades almost all the poems and it keeps on making the reader feel positive about everything around him.
At the same time in the majority of his poems, the poet keeps the reader informed about the verse form he has used while writing that poem. This educates the unaware reader at the same time. This will make sure that the audience reading the poetry volume is much wiser and beyond literary people. Grown-up people are much more likely to find interest in reading the poems as they are not just about simple reading, but understanding the thought of the poet too.