At Brilliant Light Publishing, we’re very appreciative of James Crews. With a thoughtful approach to his writing topics, James’ poems have given voice and permission for his audience to exchange fears for clarity and knowledge, separation for openness and caring, myth and misunderstanding for truth and positivity.
His writing has appeared in Ploughshares, Raleigh Review, Crab Orchard Review and The New Republic, as well as on Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry newspaper column, and he is a regular contributor to The London Times Literary Supplement. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in Writing & Literature from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is the author of two collections of poetry, The Book of What Stays (Prairie Schooner Prize and Foreword Book of the Year Citation, 2011) and Telling My Father (Cowles Prize, 2017).
Down to Earth
The heart of a farmer
is made of muscle
and earth that aches
for return to earth.
And when the sky
releases a steady rain,
massaging each row
of sprouted beans,
my husband leans out
of the car window
and opens his hand
to hold that water
for a single instant,
his heart now beating
in sync with rain
seeping through layers
to kiss the roots
of every plant alive
on this living, breathing
planet on whose back
we were granted
permission to live
for a limited time.
© James Crews
James’ unwavering code of connection and kindness in the face of darkness has resulted in a recently published compilation of poetry from Green Writers Press, Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness & Connection. His experience working with Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser, assisted him greatly in the choosing of poets for the book, and Ted Kooser provided the preface. These poets, from all walks of life, and from all over America, prove to us the possibility of creating in our lives what Dr. Martin Luther King called the “beloved community,” a place where we see each other as the neighbors we already are. Healing the Divide urges us, at this fraught political time, to move past the negativity that often fills the airwaves, and to embrace the ordinary moments of kindness and connection that fill our days.
I could almost hear their soft collisions
on the cold air today, but when I came in,
shed my layers and stood alone by the fire,
I felt them float toward me like spores
flung far from their source, having crossed
miles of oceans and fields unknown to most
just to keep my body fixed to its place
on the earth. Call them God if you must,
these messengers that bring hard evidence
of what I once was and where I have been—
filling me with bits of stardust, whaleskin,
goosedown from the pillow where Einstein
once slept, tucked in his cottage in New Jersey,
dreaming of things I know I’ll never see.
An award-winning poet and editor, James is also a teacher, leading mindfulness workshops and individual manuscript consultations and coaching for those looking for support and encouragement in their writing and spiritual practice. He has assisted memoirists, novelists, and poets and can easily be contacted via email. He lives on an organic farm with his husband, Brad Peacock, in Shaftsbury, Vermont.
— Ray Hudson, author of Moments Rightly Placed and Ivory and Paper