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Joel David Kilgore
Verse of Life
Life is poetic and poetry is life. Poetry can touch weary soul, inspire, teach, entertain, and heal emotional scars. The gift of poetry transcends understanding and takes the reader and writer to new worlds. Every poet has a unique brand and theme which identifies the poet’s style. Usually, a poet’s prose identifies what style of poetry the poet writes. God has blessed this author with a gift that bears no certain theme or style. Instead, poetry is universal and reaches the masses. Within the verses of this book are questions and answers defining praise, worship, life, humanity, and God. Without God, there is no life, without life, there is no poetry. The verses within “Verse of Life” lead the reader on a spiritual journey which edifies God and raptures the soul. God’s spirit is the true author and the writer is merely a vessel to place the verses to page.
Kilgore’s spirited and hefty second collection (following The Spirit’s Call) uses poetry as ministry to reinvigorate faith in the hearts of Christian readers, examine the relationship between America and God, explore theological mysteries, and plead in the face of injustice to “Let us all be seen as children / Of the God that we believe.” Whereas Kilgore’s debut offered a general overview of his Christian faith, the almost 200 poems constituting Verse of Life focus on the innumerable ways Christ presents Himself in the poet’s life and the employment of faith as lifestyle rather than mere belief. “The art of holy living,” Kilgore writes, “Is in a single prayer, // To ask and then be faithful // That God will meet you there.”

For Kilgore, poetry functions as prayer—a subject upon which he devotes many lines and guidance, noting “It just takes one prayer / To know Him e'er true”—but also as a means of channeling the voice of God. In “From Whence It Comes,” the speaker notes, “as words do hit the paper // They jingle life and rhyme, // They often tell a story // That truly isn't mine,” but instead “a gift from God.” That might sound lofty, but these simply structured rhyming verses express a faith “All sprinkled with humility / And a pinch of humbleness or two.” Spiritual reflections on earthly matters are striking: “Let Me Breathe,” for example, is a poignant elegy for George Floyd.

“Congressional Seat” and “The Leader” also utilize Christian morals, condemning dishonesty and sin among sitting members of congress and presidents past, but the thread that binds Kilgore’s collection together amid topics secular and spiritual is a forthright commitment to “life with God” that is profound in its plea simply to pray and have faith in God’s answer. Through verse, Kilgore searches, connects, and rejoices, inviting readers to join him.

Takeaway: Prayerful poems that examine living in the path of Christ.

Comparable Titles: Christian Wiman’s “Hammer Is the Prayer”; Geoffrey Hill.

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