The Gift of Poetry

“Poetry provides us the history of the human heart.” This is what American Poet laureate Billy Collins said in the introductory session of his master class on poetry online that I had attended. This was way back in July, five months since the Covid-19 pandemic began. During those long days of staying at home, I began to read and write poetry more than I ever had since I started appreciating it as a child. For sure I am not a professional poet. I was not a literature major in college nor do I have an MFA in poetry. What I do have is an insatiable curiosity and appreciation for the gift of poetry. I am very grateful for all those in the past who have bared their hearts using ink and paper to give us a glimpse of the architecture of a human soul. There were instances when I was baffled and moments that I was profoundly moved by these heart historians. But in times of uncertainty, reading a poem, has given me some stability, something to hold on to while the storm rages on. In my blog I humbly share some of my attempts to write a history of my own heart, grateful for the gift of poetry and those who generously bestowed them to us. May the Master Poet who has breathed life into us and created this world with poetic beauty and grandeur, inspire us with the joy of receiving this gift!

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Carla Romarate-Knipel

Ever since I was a child, I enjoyed reading and writing. Perhaps it was because my parents were great storytellers and voracious readers. As soon as I learned to write (yes I did it in cursive like everybody else did then!) I started a diary. When I was nine years old I sent a letter to my Dad who was an overseas contract worker in Guam. I wrote it in a form of a comic book and illustrated it myself. As a student at the Central Philippine University Elementary School, I was the Filipino literary editor of our school paper, the Mini Echo. To this day I was baffled by that because I was not that good in Filipino! In highs school I served as literary editor in the Central High Herald. I began to write poems and short stories that unfortunately I don't have any copies saved because we didn't have computers and flash drives then. II joined a short story writing contest sponsored by Central echo, CPU's college paper some time in the 1980's. I joined because I needed money to buy a new pair of sandals. My short story was titled, "Leaves," and it won first place! The chief judge was Prof. Alfredo Q. Gonzales, author of the classic essay, "The Will of a River," one of my favorite reads of Filipino literature in English. I did a lot of writing in college/seminary and graduate school but the most fun I had was when I was writing poems and short stories. Fast forward to the 21st century, I now write sermons every week and articles for our monthly news letter. Currently I serve as Senior Pastor of Central Baptist Church of Woodbury in Woodbury, New Jersey, U.S.A. This is my twelfth year at CBC, where my husband and I served as co-interim pastors from 2010 through 2012. We have a 19-year old son who is a college freshman, and my technical adviser in all things digital. In this continuing writing adventure I am thankful to God for giving me the inspiration to write and the joy that goes with it. I hope that my poems, prayers and prose inspire joy in my readers.

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