Also by this author: God Speaks Through Wombs: Poems on God's Unexpected Coming
Published by IVP on January 10, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Politics, Racial Reconciliation, Theology, Social Justice
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Gather it from memory.Let it touch the earth.
In Touch the Earth, Drew Jackson continues the project he began in God Speaks Through Wombs, reflecting on the Gospel of Luke through poetry. Touch the Earth picks up in chapter nine and continues through the end of Luke's Gospel. Part protest poetry, part biblical commentary, Jackson presents the gospel story in all its liberative power. Here the gospel is the "fresh words / that speak of / things impossible."
From the feeding of the multitude ("The best hosts always provide / take home containers”) to the resurrection of Jesus ("the belly of mother Earth / is, indeed, a womb . . . the humus of life is where we become fully human"), this collection helps us hear the hum of deliverance―against all hope―that's been in the gospel all along.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to put my thoughts about Touch the Earth into words. Part of that struggle has simply been time constraints in my current schedule. Part of it is that I don’t consider myself a poet and so my criticism and praise here can only come from my own subjective sense of knowing what I like and comparing it to Jackson’s previous collection God Speaks Through Wombs. And part of it because when words are so poignant and powerful, it deserves to be spoken about in a way that matches its emotions.
To be honest, Touch the Earth didn’t hit me as hard as God Speaks Through Wombs. I think that’s because Jackson’s unifying theme in that first volume was clear and concise. The poems in this volume cover more ground. God Speaks Through Wombs covered Luke 1-8. Touch the Earth takes us the rest of the way through the Gospel, covering Luke 9-24. Structurally, I wonder if this would not have better been released as a trilogy. The middle volume could have focused on the ministry of Jesus with a concluding volume speaking to the Easter story.
Regardless, Jackson covers different styles of poetry, different themes, different feels. Some have an easy connection to the verses they are borne from. Others require a little more digging. Some fill the page; others are just a few lines. I’m not a poet, so I won’t try to evaluate it as such. I’ll just say that I find this best read alongside the biblical text. What Jackson writes is a merging of Scripture and his emotions that’s quite powerful and speaks to his experience of being Black in America.
The back cover of the book says that this work is “part protest poetry.” That’s an accurate statement. Jackson captures the ethos of the oppressed in Luke’s gospel (and Jesus’s ministry) and artistically uses that to give voice to those oppressed by the empires of this day. There are some poems I wish that I just had a little bit of commentary or context on. There are others where the message is exceptionally clear. Altogether, if you enjoyed God Speaks Through Wombs, you’ll find this a more than suitable follow-up.