Q&A interview about poetry and the bible (2011)
Extract from interview for Bible fresh:
‘Everyone is creative because they are made in God’s image.’
Sarah Fordham’s spiritual and personal poetry can be found in her two published collections, ‘Love’s First Look’ and ‘The Cool of the Day’. In both collections Sarah draws on stories and characters from the Bible to create beautiful, lyrical and insightful poems.
Why do you think some people are scared of poetry? A lot of it goes back to bad experiences of poetry at school. It can be difficult to come back to it as an adult. I make a distinction between language and truth, and technique and craft. Some people think they can’t write poetry because they can’t spell. Some people think that ‘I’m not creative’ but I believe everyone is creative because they are made in God’s image. I try to remind people that every published writer has an editor. I think as well it is important to give up control! When you start a poem you don’t know where it is headed. I tell people just to start and not think too much about it - follow a word with a word and develop a train of thought.
How do you use the Bible when writing poetry? I am not always conscious of using the Bible in my writing although much of it is informed by interacting with the scriptures. Thoughts, inspirations and ideas come because I’ve read the text. If though, I am interested in a particular character, for example, Judas, I read everything that is written about Judas in the Bible; Old Testament prophecies, all the gospels and there is a mention of him in Acts. This is so I can build up as full a picture of him as possible. I meditate on these verses again and again. I try to get inside his head and imagine what he was going through, what he was thinking and feeling when he did what he did. Even though what Judas did was extreme, we all have an experience of betrayal; we can all betray ourselves and other people. For me, it’s about connecting what is in the text, what is on the outside, with what is inside me and then hopefully other people will connect with what is inside them through the poem.
How would you encourage other people to engage with the Bible in creative ways? I think you need to develop a lifestyle of reflection; getting used to reading the Bible slowly. There can be a tendency to rush through the Bible. Stay with a few verses, one character or story. Lectio Divina is a good way of reading the Bible slowly and writing down what you notice. Think about how the verses connect with your own thoughts and feelings. My experience is that if you want to be inspired by the text, and particularly if you want to go on to be creative, cultivating reflective reading is really, really important.