Connecting Hearts By inSpire with David A. Dean

 Photo: David A. Dean
We asked David about his background and about how he developed his passion for poetry.

inSpire - David, please tell us about yourself and how you became interested in poetry.

Dean - I became interested in poetry at an early age. When I was a child, my mother would passionately and theatrically read and recite poetry to me and my sisters. I remember writing my first poem when I was about 12 years old. I entered a local poetry contest and soon learned to love the thrill of writing and expressing my ideas in a creative and inspiring way. I've been writing and reciting poetry ever since.

inSpire - Do you have any poets that you really enjoy and that give you inspiration to write? If so, who are they?

Dean - It can be hard to find well written, thought provoking, and yet inoffensive poetry. But I do get inspired when I read the writings of Quandra. She's a fellow poet, Christian, and personal friend whose works are very insightful and persuasive. My creativity is also stirred when I read “Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.” It's an edgy compilation of poems featuring the works of poets from different backgrounds.

There are a lot of talented, unknown poets out there who post their writings on Facebook and on websites dedicated to poetry. I'm a part of a few poetry groups on Facebook and from time to time I'll go check them out. Reading the raw thoughts of everyday people who are passionate about sharing their lyrical artistry can be very moving, and it awakens in me a fresh desire to create. Though I appreciate poetry deeply, I also tend not to absorb too much of what others write. This helps me to maintain my own originality without being overly influenced by other poets. Art is so subjective and what inspires one may not inspire another... so I try not to compare my compositions to those of another poet. I believe there's enough shelf space in this world for individuals to express their ideas without having to be pressured to be like, or sound like another artist.

inSpire - Do you have any ideas on how we can use poetry to convey God’s message of grace and salvation?

Dean - I do. I think that the universality and likability of poetry makes it easier to get it into every crevice and corner of our dark and skeptical world. Here are a few ideas...

Social media is the biggest thing happening right now in communication. There are scores of people sharing their values, morals, and philosophies through this medium. Christian poets can create blogs, groups, websites, Facebook pages, etc, to influence this generation for Jesus. By sharing our Christ-centered creativity in this setting we can reach people around the world instantly and inexpensively.

Poetry though as a niche has an acquired taste. Some people don't have the patience for how its cryptic lines unfold. They can't understand what the author is talking about...even I get frustrated with that! One way to alleviate that and to still use poetry as a vehicle for evangelism is to share a poem or series of poems using media (radio, audio recordings, video, written format), and then explain what the poem(s) mean. I've performed readings at events where I was able to do just that. I'd read the poem and then breakdown its message, origin, and relevance. I've found that it helps connect the art to the heart.

With the ubiquitous nature of the internet and devices like the iPad, Kindle, and Nook, it would seem that books are out of date and passe. However, people are still buying paper backs. I would encourage any poet who has a collection of writings to publish their work. Self publishing is a great way to get a book done your way. Poetry doesn't sell like other genres and therefore it's hard to get published unless you do it yourself. Some self publishing companies will put your book online on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Family and friends are always eager to purchase copies because they know you. I've had some of my secular friends buy my book just because they knew me...little did they know they'd get a heavy dose of my worldview including my faith in Christ.

Local poetry readings are also a great way to mingle and mix with those who are unbelievers. Poets should arm themselves with their published works or best Christian poems and go recite them in front of live audiences. It's like a free evangelistic message that takes less than five minutes to deliver. When you hold traditional evangelistic meetings you have to mail out flyers, rent a hall and do all the foot work. Here, someone else puts out the flyers and does the promotion, and you are one of many speakers conveying through creative spoken word a powerful message of God's love.

Poetry has qualities which give it a unique advantage over classic presentations of the gospel. From the art of story telling, prose, and rhyme, poems can find their way to the heart and the intellect in a way few vehicles can. 

inSpire - Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for inspiring us with your passion for poetry.

Read a Poem by David A. Dean

This interview was conducted by Rich DuBose, Director of Pacific Union Conference Church Support Services and the inSpire project. All rights reserved © 2012 Click here for content usage information.