A Poet, Too: Ted Voigt

I’m happy to announce that May 2019 brings us our first poetic blog post–well, the first one to contain poetry in the strictest sense. It is brought to us by NazTooer Ted Voigt. Ted and Sarah Voigt live in Wicklow, Ireland with their two kids, Abigail and Simon.  They have worked for the Nazarene Church in various capacities since 2006 and currently hold the title of “Missionary.”  Ted is @jtvink on twitter and instagram. He is an enneagram 9. His first book of poetry, “Pages Called Holy” is available on Amazon.

It was an honor to be asked recently to guest blog, and I was delighted with myself until I sat down to think about what I could possibly say to you folks.  My social media use these days is primarily a mode of listening and learning from the experience of others, and I struggle to see the ways in which my voice is needed in “the conversation.” I’m not sure what I have to add that isn’t being said a thousand ways already. I could talk about my experience as a Nazarene Missionary to Ireland, working in an evangelical context within a larger context of 1,600+ years of christianity.  I could talk about my views of the Nazarene church as an organization, the bright spots and dark corners we’ve wandered through in our time here. I could talk about being raised in the UMC, the formational role of liturgy and corporate worship in my younger years.  I could talk about the time I spent in Antarctica working with climate scientists, or my years learning group dynamics and team building and the role of adventure and retreat in spiritual formation. Some of those would make an okay blog post, but I’m not writing about those things at the minute.  

Instead, I want to share a passion of mine, which is poetry.  If you’re not sure what to make of poetry, if you don’t think you really “get” it or you think you’re not “smart enough” let me first say, you’re not alone, but also, that’s ok.  You don’t have to get it. You don’t even have to be smart. You wouldn’t react that way to a complicated melody or a technically challenging painting; you enjoy them. Or you don’t!  I think this is the key to enjoying poetry; if you don’t like a poem, move on. Just as you don’t have to love every song you hear, or you don’t have to sit pondering ever painting in the gallery, you certainly don’t have to love every poem that you read.  If you don’t enjoy a poem, move on, but don’t stop trying, and don’t forget to go back sometime. That T.S. Elliot from high school might mean more to you now than it did then.

If you need to start somewhere, I always recommend Billy Collins.  His poem Introduction to Poetry is both a fabulous poem as well as a great description of how I experience reading poetry:  water skiing across it. Am I missing some deeper meanings? Maybe. Sometimes. But that’s life, you can’t get everything.  If you like that, keep reading his stuff, he’s great. I’ll also recommend a guy I recently found called Scott Cairns, his Idiot Psalms are so, so good, and his poem Possible Answers to Prayer has become a kind of meditation for me.  

And now, after I apologize for a paragraph about poetry in which I mention only two white American men, a crime for which I do honestly owe the universe some penance, I offer a few pieces I’ve been working on.  I hope you like them, but maybe you won’t, that’s ok too. Just don’t give up on poetry!

Moonmoon

Somewhere in space

they say there’s a moon

with its own, smaller moon.

a moonmoon

they call it,

a satellite of a satellite

a celestial body attracted

to the wrong kind of body

a lunar love triangle

orbits tangled

gravity making fools

of us all

because who hasn’t fallen

into the wrong earth’s influence

objects mooning

over objects obliquely

looping in ovals, bravely into space

but pulled back in by a

moon

or a planet

or a star

or a smile.

Memes of grace

May this be the age

when the prevenient goes viral

when our outward signs are pixelated and

the sanctuary wifi will amplify memes of grace

may our children

as indigenous disciples

of digital connectivity

lead us forward

to like and share the peace of Christ and also with your friends

and also with your followers

and also make public.

No Telling

Beneath shoes, crumbled

bits of boulders and

cliffs mix with

what’s left of the great

carved high crosses of Downpatrick.

Tough to know now,

as you walk through the grove,

which bits of granite

once told a story

and which only listened.

An apostle’s foot

or deposit of quartz

a crown of thorns

or cluster of feldspar

no telling.

Once eternally etched

preaching a

gospel of granite to

illiterate masses

now scattered

the grinding

beneath feet

their only sermon.