Glory in the Margins

writ­ten by Nik­ki Grimes
Par­a­clete Press, Sep­tem­ber 21, 2021

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Glory in the Margins: Sunday Poems

About the Book

This is a book for teen and adults readers.

A study of scrip­ture reveals that Jesus spent a lot of time with peo­ple in the mar­gins. As an African Amer­i­can, Nik­ki Grimes lives in the mar­gins, and she can tell you that it’s a place most of us would rather not be. And yet, she knows there is always glo­ry to be found in the mar­gins because of the Lord’s pres­ence in, and with us.

As Poet Lau­re­ate of Grace Brethren Church in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, it’s Ms. Grimes’ job to dis­till the heart of the week­ly ser­mon into a poem. She dives into each week’s cho­sen scrip­ture, view­ing it from her own per­spec­tive as Black, as woman, as poet, always a lit­tle left of cen­ter, and look­ing for the glo­ry to be found in the mar­gins of life, and of the text. Of course, she says, those of us who live in the mar­gins are not what any­one expects, and the very notion that God might speak through us, may seem a bit wild. But he does. ‘I will pour out my spir­it on all flesh, ’ said the Lord. God’s busy in the hearts of all who call on him.


Grimes is a much-lau­reled writer of both prose and poet­ry with a spe­cial apti­tude for writ­ing mate­r­i­al that will appeal to younger read­ers, includ­ing with a recent treat­ment of the life of cur­rent Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris. This most recent col­lec­tion of her poems is explic­it­ly devo­tion­al. Most of them derive inspi­ra­tion from spe­cif­ic vers­es of Chris­t­ian Scrip­ture, cit­ed at the con­clu­sion of the poem; all of them were intend­ed for deliv­ery from the pul­pit, as an adjunct to the wor­ship life of Grimes’ home con­gre­ga­tion, a small Brethren in Christ church in River­side, Cal­i­for­nia. As such, they form a sort of litur­gi­cal cal­en­dar in poet­ry: every month of the Church’s life, and cer­tain­ly all its great occa­sions, are treat­ed here. Grimes has a gift for direct, flow­ing expres­sion, and her poems are both devout and mem­o­rable: “Here he comes,/ the Word walking/ in a pool/ of his own light.” VERDICT Grimes’s unfussy verse, at once per­son­al in faith and pub­lic in deliv­ery, will find an audi­ence among Chris­t­ian read­ers and a place in the wor­ship ser­vices of con­gre­ga­tions look­ing for artis­tic expres­sions of the Church’s year.  (Library Jour­nal)

Leave it to the sen­sa­tion­al­ly gift­ed Nik­ki Grimes to weld her devo­tions into one glo­ri­ous body of text. It’s pos­si­ble to feel these deeply root­ed poems find­ing friends even as you read them. They will be spo­ken in res­o­nant spaces to grate­ful con­gre­ga­tions. They will find new homes in the mid­dle of lone­ly nights. Gen­er­ous ren­der­ings of famil­iar bib­li­cal sto­ries and pre­cious prin­ci­ples in her own inim­itable voice. I bow down to ‘An Unclut­tered Gospel’ and ‘Nav­i­gat­ing No’ among so many gems and sing prais­es to Nik­ki for lift­ing us up. (Nao­mi Shi­hab Nye, Young People’s Poet Lau­re­ate, Poet­ry Foundation)

These poems of Nik­ki Grimes are like ser­mons in the stan­dard sense, but also in the orig­i­nal Roman sense of ‘conversations’—clear, col­lo­qui­al talk that is rev­er­ent about God and often gen­tly irrev­er­ent about our fail­ures to live lives of faith. The lan­guage of Glo­ry in the Mar­gins: Sun­day Poems is clear and fresh, and the book’s mes­sages based on the Bible will be insight­ful and con­sol­ing for read­ers of all ages and back­grounds. (A.M. Juster, poet, author of Won­der and Wrath)

Nik­ki Grimes has writ­ten many, many books of poet­ry dur­ing her esteemed career. But in this one, you hold more than just a book: you hold a sanc­tu­ary. (Sarah Arthur, author, speak­er, and edi­tor of the Lit­er­ary Guides to Prayer)

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