Young Adult . Youth Ministry . Shows . Events . Assemblies   Alvin"Testimony"Bowman  Poet/Artist . Motivational Speaker . Host . Story Teller

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Why Poetry?

Besides Poetry being God's gift to "Testimony" in Ministry....Let's take a look at Poetry in the Natural/Physical and Spiritual/Biblical realms.  In the Natural/Physical...I believe creative expression through poetry meets the unforeseen needs of our youth and young adults in several ways. More often than not, today’s youth and young adults are faced with issues and situations that they neither have the tools to cope with nor avenues to positively express their feelings. With so little resources available that cultivate the need for self-expression, the proposed vision God placed on my heart will prayerfully motivate, encourage and positively influence young adults to develop into the productive members of society that God wants them to be.

Poetry, in every therapeutic arena, is not only a means of self expression; but it is a form of journalizing feelings, events, situations and environmental conditions that would enable young adults to talk about what is going on in their lives and vent buried frustrations and feelings that lead to violence, drug use, isolation, and a sense of hopelessness and depression.

Our youth need an outlet for healing. Most don’t even have a male figure in their lives...let alone a positive role model and mentor. God has placed in my heart to step in the gap. He has blessed me mightily in my life. I understand what it is like to struggle. I have been homeless, on the streets, addicted to drugs, and in prison. I have lived the “Fast” lifestyle. I have been a victim of violent crimes and relationships and have committed crimes and have taken for granted what the precious gifts that “living life” and “perusing dreams” has to offer.

Hurt people Hurt people….However, pain shared is pain lessened. Poetry is a documented resource tool to help identify dreams; thus, beginning the goal setting process that creates hope. Hope is the fuel that drives “Change”. Stimulating the mind to produce creativity is a very health process. Poetry is just one more tool that everyone can use to positively navigate the pressures and complex situations of today which creates a sense of comradery that battles the “stuff only happens to me” syndrome.

I can’t help but wonder where I would be today had I had an opportunity like this one to express myself in a positive manner. It would have helped me identify who I am a lot sooner in life. Not only are youths and young adults faced with a myriad of situations and decisions that affect the rest of their lives, they are also saturated with negative TV, videos and music that facilitate the deterioration of the mind, body and spirit. God has placed the burning desire in my heart to take an active role, through Christ, in combating these issues.

More often than not, when it is time to “change” or “identify” the core underlying issues that contribute to poor performance, attitudes and behaviors, it is an uphill battle with diminishing chances for success. It is my hope that by me exhibiting, encouraging and demonstrating the power of poetry, words, speech and communication to the youth and young adults that they will be inspired to express themselves creatively through poetry or whatever gift God has placed in them. Eventually will help them identify with their inner-selves to become a positive influence in their community and an empowered solution to their own issues, concerns and situations while providing the fuel to keep their dreams alive by erecting a solid foundation of self-confidence and self-awareness to stand on the Solid Rock of Christ.

This is not a novel theory…The Book of Ecclesiastes 1:9 states “There is Nothing New Under The Sun”. Everything we need is already in us and has already been done before us...For us. We have ALL we need. We just have to tap into “The Source”, the WORD of God to get it.

Poetry has been around since the beginning of time. Jesus is the original poet. Several books in the Bible are written either totally or predominantly in poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs and Lamentations. Moreover, many parts of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Minor Prophets are also written in poetry. Translating poetry is notoriously difficult. Many translations of Homer’s epic poems, the Iliad and Odyssey, for example, are in prose rather than poetry. Rhythm, rhyme, repetitive sounds and wordplays are not easily reproduced in a translation. However, the key to appreciating biblical poetry, and indeed most of the ancient Near Eastern poetry, is none of these. It is parallelism.

A typical verse of Hebrew poetry is divided into two or more complementary parts or members — and these members parallel each other in some way. In the books of Job, Psalms and Proverbs, the scribes often inserted gaps to separate the different members of each verse. Most English versions of the Bible retain the parallelism of the Hebrew text.

For Example:   Look at Proverbs 6:20-21:

"My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck."

Both verses divide into two members, with the second member repeating the thought of the first in different words.

The next verse is divided into three parallel members:

"When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you" (verse 22).

Notice that in the above examples, it is not only the thoughts that are parallel but also the grammatical structures, especially in verse 22. Furthermore, the terms in one member have corresponding terms in the other member: "keep" and "do not forsake," "father’s commands" and "mother’s teaching," "bind" and "fasten" etc.

Parallelism is not simply repetition. The Hebrews used a wide variety of techniques to enable the final member of the verse to complete, intensify or give additional meaning to the earlier members. Biblical scholars have compiled extensive analysis of the grammatical, phonological, lexical and semantic changes used in moving from one line to the next.

Lets take a look at some of the more common types of parallelism.

•In Staircase Parallelism, the second member repeats verbatim the beginning of the first member: "Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.   Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness" (Psalm 29:1-2). This form, also called climactic parallelism, is used to build a series of climaxes in Psalms 29 and 94, for example.

Antithetical Parallelism is often marked in English translations by the word but dividing the members: "The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight" (Proverbs 11:1). These sort of contrasts are particularly frequent in Proverbs 10–15, but throughout the Psalms also: "The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish" (Psalm 1:6).

• In Emblematic Parallelism, one of the members is a simile or metaphor: "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God" (Psalm 42:1) and "Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens" (Song of Songs 2:2).

• A Chiastic Parallelism, a form of envelope structure, inverts the word order in the second line: "Long life is in her [wisdom’s] right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor" (Proverbs 3:16) and "The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me" (Psalm 18:20).

• External Parallelism is where an entire verse is parallel to the next verse, or perhaps the first verse is parallel to the third verse and the second verse is parallel to the fourth verse: "Lift up your heads, O you gates be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty — he is the King of glory" (Psalm 24:7-10).

Understanding even the basics about parallelism gives us a greater appreciation of the poetic sections of the Bible. If you want to study this subject further, you may wish to read James L. Kugel’s The Idea of Biblical Poetry, which is a detailed examination of parallelism, and Robert Alter’s The Art of Biblical Poetry, which has chapters discussing how parallelism is used to enhance the messages in the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs and the prophetic books.