Yet there is purpose to this yearning, suffering, and questioning, just as Jesus had purpose in the Gospels to seek a desert of solitude, too, and face trials there. “All the pain and sorrow” Spratley writes in “Perspectives,” “served as a tool” to look inward and find a spiritual awakening and a new purpose in life: creativity, generosity, and love. The narrator’s outlook shifts from a state of longing for answers and connection toward a state of curiosity in which there’s “much to discover but even more to create” and a willingness to help others who are walking through the desert, seeking the other side.
Paired with each of these somber yet hopeful verses are often oversaturated landscape photos and contrived works of surrealist digital art from the public domain whose inclusion appears largely extraneous, though at times they offer a striking visual complement to Spratley’s poems. But it’s in the poet’s own words and ruminations—and in the aching spiritual journey the narrator takes through them—that is where Desert Plains shines. Readers seeking accessible but not simple poems that delve deeply into the complexities of Christian spirituality will find Spratley’s debut validating and inspired.
Takeaway: Poems of faith exploring suffering, raw landscapes, and spiritual awakening.
Comparable Titles: Daniel C. Colesworthy, Greta Zwaan
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A-