There's a story behind every poem in Connie Vincent's book of verse titled "A Time of Truth and Trust." The book of 27 poems was just published in August—published through the insistence of her husband, Floyd, who serves as pastor of the East Chesterfield Christian and Winameg Christian churches.
Connie has written poems off and on for several years and every so often Floyd would tell her, "You should get some of these published."
Samples of her work were sent to Tate Publishing—a firm focusing on Christian themes—and the company was willing to go to press with her poems. That kicked off a 14-month process during which Connie worked with an editor, a designer, an illustrator, a marketing person and more.
"It was interesting and fun," she said. "It's a good company to work with."
She submitted two additional poems before the final closing date, including "Against All Odds," and of course there's a story behind that.
She asked Linda Bennett, owner of Books and Such Christian book store in Wauseon, if people often come in to look for poetry books. Linda gave her the bad news—no, they don't—but then she remembered an exception. Linda does have customers looking for a poem to read at mother-daughter banquets and she asked Connie if her book would have something appropriate. Connie knew it didn't.
"Well, you might want to put one in," Linda suggested, and Connie went home to think about the topic. "Against All Odds"—a poem about the challenges of motherhood and the strength gained through faith—became the very last poem she submitted for the book.
"Most of my poems have a story of one kind or another," Connie said.
The oldest poem in the book, "Fair Spring," was written in the 1960s for her grandfather's birthday. The line "Heaven is Not Silent" became the title of a poem long before the verse was written.
"It was in my mind," she said. "Then I had to figure out the poem."
"Our Time" is a poem written to be read aloud. It was created for a talent night program. "Mission Ward" was written for a church assembly in 2010, and it was also put to music.
A personal poem, "Grieving," written for some members of her husband's family, was included in the volume only because she thought it might be of help to others in a similar situation.
The most unique poem in the book, called "The Truth about Vivian Ruth," is an imagined story stemming from a real situation. When Connie was growing up in Massachusetts, she lived near the Quabbin Reservoir that eventually covered four small towns as it grew. In the poem, Connie imagines a school girl who moved from the flooded area to the Midwest, and brought with her a sadness that no one understood.
Connie might be thought of as an unlikely poet because she never had a strong interest in poetry. Even now when she goes into a bookstore, she seldom heads for the poetry section. She does have some anthologies of well-known poets which she enjoys. Those are the poets who are really good, she says.
She describes herself as a writer who can't spell. When she puts words to paper, she has a dictionary close at hand, along with a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary.
The Bible—her number one source—is also nearby.
"I'm always looking up something to see if it's scriptural," she said.
Many of her poems are followed by a reference to a Bible verse—words that could provide additional inspiration.
"Sometimes it's just to prove a point, to show it actually does say something like that in the Bible."
Her words sometimes marvel at the wonders of nature, sometimes address aging—"You can tell I'm obsessed by time as I get older"—and many speak to the challenges of life, from the loss of a friend to financial difficulty, from a struggling single mother to worry over the condition of the country.
Connie is still writing poetry although she doesn't know if she will go through the publishing process again. If anything, she might collect the poems she's written for children for a second book of verse.
For now she'll continue focusing on her current volume and she knows it's time to put in a new order following Christmas sales. She'll be satisfied if more readers find comfort and encouragement through their spiritual faith as they read her book.
"Hopefully the poems will speak to someone other than me," she said.
• Connie Vincent’s “A Time of Truth and Trust” is available at amazon.com. To order a copy from her, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.