Help Me Be: a book review

Dale Fredrickson is a teaching pastor and spoken-word artist at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, CO. Both as pastor and as poet, he is charged with the ministry of word-care (or Word-care).  In his new book of poetry, Help Me Be: Praying in PoemsFredrickson uses his words to ignite our hunger for God amidst difficulty, suffering and brokenness.

Help-Me-Be-Cover-1010x1024The organization of these poems is lifted from Walter Brueggemann’s Message of the Psalms (it’s okay, Brueggemann wrote the forward). There are poems of Orientation (Or, Life is Good), Disorientation (Or, Life is Not Good), and New Orientation (Or, Life is Good Again).  However, I felt like ‘new orientation’ breaks into the poems of ‘disorientation’ a little too much. Fredrickson writes poems to give us a sense of the Divine Presence doesn’t press into the darkness as much as he could.

I enjoyed these poems. It is a short book (48 pages) and Fredrickson offers poetic prayers reminiscent of Brueggemann’s Awed to Heaven (Rooted in Earth), Inscribing the Text  or Prayers for a Privileged People. Fredrickson lacks some of the prophetic edge of Brueggemann but there is a lyrical quality to his poems. Among his poetic influences are Wendell Berry, Shel Silverstein and Mary Oliver.

These poems should be read aloud. Fredrickson is a spoken-word artist and I found I appreciated these poems more when I let the words play on my tongue.

I read these with an eye toward their possible liturgical use.  Many of these poems do not avail themselves to a ‘responsive reading’ as the poetic voice is singular. I still think they would add to a worship service, particularly with the right reader. I would give this about four stars.

Help Me Be is available for purchase through Amazon.

I recieved this book from SpeakEasy in exchange for my honest review.

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