FIRST PLACE, POETRY, 2020 CATHOLIC PRESS ASSOCIATION BOOK AWARDS
BRONZE MEDAL, POETRY, 2020 ILLUMINATION BOOK AWARDS
Why is God represented on the cover of this book of poems with a photograph of an inviting empty chair bathed in sunlight?
Because Franciscan Sister Irene Zimmerman is about to fill that chair with poetic images of God from both the Word and the World, her verses illuminated by passages from Eugene Peterson’s The Message and photos by Trappist Father James Behrens.
As she writes in her Introduction, “More than a dozen years ago I had the strong desire and determination to write and present, in one volume, poems that celebrate Scripture and Creation—what medieval theologians referred to as God’s two ‘books’ of self-revelation.” Part One contains poems inspired by scriptural stories, characters, and events intended to help the reader imagine the scene and perhaps gain new insights into the biblical texts. Part Two contains poems of God’s creation, where humans first encounter God.
“I began to experience something of the God-Mystery on the Iowa farm where I grew up,” Sister Irene explains. “Breezes rustled the drying corn or moved across fragrant hay fields. Plants rooted, sprouted, bloomed, gave fragrance in spring and food in autumn in the form of apples, cherries, peaches, potatoes. The animals sharing the turf with me offered eggs, milk, butter, meat. They used their unique voices—they peeped, clucked, crowed, squawked, chirped, mewed, barked, mooed, whinnied, snorted—to tell me of God’s creativity, generosity, humor, beauty.”
Sister Irene Zimmerman has learned to “see like sun,” as she prays at the end of her poem “Solar Graffiti.”
If I could learn to see like sun
I too would move around the world,
drawing peace on every wall
till earth was one.
And now she shares that experience with all of us.
About the Author
Early in her teaching career, Irene Zimmerman, OSF, was encouraged by a sister-colleague, herself a poet, to work at developing her God-given gifts. And work she did, publishing five volumes of poetry and presenting her poems, often accompanied by music, at community meetings, conferences, and other gatherings. Now retired after serving in a variety of ministries in the School Sisters of St. Francis, she continues to write and present her poetry, sing in church choirs, and enjoy God’s Word and World.
About the Photographer
James Stephen Behrens, OCSO, is a Trappist monk of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. His reflections and photographs have appeared in books, including several published by ACTA Publications, and in print and on-line periodicals.
Praise for Sr. Irene Zimmerman and her Poetry
“Irene Zimmerman’s poems are simply astonishing. When I first was introduced to her poetry, I felt that I had never been closer to the Gospels. All I could think of was Emily Dickinson’s comment that a good poem should make you feel like the ‘top of your head’ has been taken off. Sister Irene’s poems, which by turns enchant, surprise, and challenge, invite you to experience, almost first hand, the profound mystery of Jesus’s life on earth. Her poems, in short, make you feel as if you are there. I return to her beautiful poetry as often as I can, and I am always rewarded.” — James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage and The Jesuit Guide
Insightful and Uplifting
Posted by Jim Moyer on Jul 9th 2020
Sister Irene Zimmerman’s book, Where God is At Home, is a joy to read ―full of insights and new vision of Christ’s teaching and creation.
The book is of two parts. In the first, she considers short bible passages from the very compelling translation The Message, and presents a poem that provides her reflections. These poems are short and vivid. She has a gift for finding new understanding in these well-known scripture passages. For example, in her single sentence poem, David Meets Goliath, she sets the stage and draws us into the moment of David’s decision to face Goliath. I found myself at David’s side through her work. Even readers long removed from these bible verses will find themselves drawn into the stories and inspired.
The second part of the book is more personal, as she reflects on creation―aspects both simple as hens and immense as the celestial view. Although these poems are a form of prayer and thanksgiving, even non-believers will find themselves drawn in to a deeper and more fulfilling experience of creation.
As I read this book, I envied Sister Irene’s ability to place herself so fully in the moment, present or long past, and to see it fully and new. I thank her for sharing.
Closer to God
Posted by Unknown on Jul 30th 2019
I've only read 40 pages so far, and it's easy to say already that this is a wonderful book drawing, pulling me into all that's written about our Lord.