Deborah L. Humphreys

Conventional Wisdom: Poetry

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Women at the Well:
Foreward (excerpt):


Those times in between times, when the grasp of the past does not hold us as tightly as before and the shape of what might be cannot be discerned, those times more than ever, we need the voice of the poet. Someone who bridges these two worlds and shares the journey with us unpretentiously. This collection of poems takes us on such a journey.


                As always, the voices heard come out of a specific time and place, a vantage point that is particular and, in the best of times, opens out to the universal. A poet, one who entered a Roman Catholic women’s religious community after the world broke apart in the 1960’s, draws us into the company of women who “surround her like a second skin.” Listen to the insistent voices of these women whose hard-won learnings shine through the rituals of daily life. Here we meet the novice, the streetwalker, the mother, the social worker, the poet, the crone—gritty, city women all.


                The context is not so foreign, we all know these women; we may, in fact, be one of them. Sitting with these poems is like bending to see one’s image in a lake or pond. At first, we see ourselves and then we are drawn to see through that—to see ourselves to relation to others who share common struggles. Making bread, working in a soup kitchen, gossiping with neighbors, remembering the past are all measured out in the dailiness of life where powerful emotions of desire, exclusion, faithfulness, passion, enduring fatigue, hope and disappointment jostle for a permanent home. The sun plays on a table, a woman smiles and glances or looks away and the moment is lost. Time when possibilities unfold or stagnate.


Carol Johnston SC

10 June 2003

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