A Christian Gift: Uplifting Poetry For All Occasions, by Bowzena Zawisz, with illustrations by Fred Koury
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Author’s Den. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
In reviewing this short book of devotional poetry , I will focus my attention on the poems themselves because the illustrations did not really add anything of value to this book. One can tell that this particular book was self-published by the odd pagination and inconsistent formatting as well as the document outline and blank page notes left at the back which have not been removed yet, something that would be pretty basic if someone was proficient at making a book. Even though the book was obviously not formatted by someone who is skilled at making books, the poems themselves are competent if a little bit self-absorbed at times. If you want free verse poetry that resembles that of, say, Emily Dickinson or someone of that sort and that expresses the author’s reflection on scripture and creation, this book will certainly provide something of interest. These poems are certainly well worth sharing and are not embarrassing to the author, unlike the poems of, say, the singer and songwriter Jewel. The subjects of the poems are well chosen and competently delivered.
Many of the stories are written from the first person perspective and the amount of time that basic pronouns like I, your, her, and his, for example, appear is a bit distracting. The poems lack any discernible rhyme or meter, but there are internal punctuation–especially dashes–as well as the use of alliteration to provide these books with something poetic in nature. The subject matter chosen for the poems includes some biblical stories, some observations of God’s creation like the desert and moonlight and the Jordan River and benevolent skies. The author reflects as well on the fickleness of relationships, offering perhaps her most deep observations on the way that people say that they care too much when they do not appear to care enough. Overall, the author offers deeper insights about matters of feelings and relationships than she does in terms of more abstract observations, and on at least a couple of occasions she tries to understand the perspective of people from the Bible and how it was that they were able to live their godly lives in the face of the difficulties that they faced. For the most part the books lack a set of coherent themes even if, as noted, there are some consistent concerns that the author returns to several times. The author appears to reflect on Sunday and Christmas in the belief that these are Christian rather than pagan in origin, suggesting that she is not very knowledgeable about the deeper law of the Bible but is probably a fairly ordinary Hellenistic Christian.
Overall, these poems offer some pleasure in reading and are generally short in nature. Few of the poems are playful, and in general the mood is fairly serious, ranging from serious and reflective in a sense of trying to understand the Bible and what it is saying or trying to draw insight from commonplace observations of the night or various aspects of creation to serious in these sense of trying to make sense of the complexity of human life and relationships. This is not the sort of book that will likely make the author a candidate to be a poet laureate of any kind, but neither is this the sort of poetry that is a discredit to the author and this book is rather the sort of book that can be read as a modest pleasure and given the appropriate modest praise. This is also the sort of book that may well encourage the reader to publish their own works of poetry in the knowledge that they can probably write just about as well, and that is not a problem either. The world could certainly use more poetry of faith and devotion and attempting to understand the world outside and the world within.
 See, for example: