written by Nikki Grimes
Paraclete Press, September 21, 2021
Buy this book:
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)