Is it poetry? Absolutely; Holmes writes in both poetic form and style.
Is it reflection? Yes; you can find deep reflection in every poem.
Is it a meditation or devotional? No question here; Holmes is reaching for something larger than what a poetry collection is usually about.
Is it memoir? Perhaps not in the familiar sense, but the poems display the idea of being shaped by what’s happened in the past and what is happening in the present.
We’ll call it a poetry collection, but reading it leads to an inevitable conclusion. The poet is writing from a place of transformation, moving from pain to hope. As the title implies, life is short, and so it should be lived with courage. But it takes life to help us figure that out, that perhaps we’ve relying too much upon our own “wisdumb” (his word and one well worth remembering).
So wear a bright visage
that shines and shows appreciation
for the life we get to live amidst
It’s true this world has many woes
and pain will never falter
while it’s showing us how easily
we b r e a k.
So, grin and grimace greatly
even when your hope’s escaping
and you’ll see that trials,
a stronger man,
– Roads less traveled
He addresses many kinds of pain — relationships, abuse, destruction of reputation, ignorance, superficiality, guilt, the need for love, conscience, using and being used by people, fear, needing a simply human touch, and more. He finds understanding in faith, but it’s a faith that knows that pain is part of life.
Holmes is an educator, ordained minister, and poet, describing himself as having “an evangelist’s tongue and a heart for hurting people” (hurting is an adjective here, not a verb). His first collection of poetry, Fingerprints of Love & War, was published in 2018. He grew up near St. Louis, where he still lives with his family.
Bravery & Brevity is a call to stop engaging in the mad rush of life, reflect on the pain in each of our lives, and understand how to get beyond it. These poems come from someone who’s been there and knows; they cry out and touch the heart. And the heart responds.
How to Read a Poem uses images like the mouse, the hive, the switch (from the Billy Collins poem)—to guide readers into new ways of understanding poems. Anthology included.
“I require all our incoming poetry students—in the MFA I direct—to buy and read this book.”
—Jeanetta Calhoun Mish
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