The Gospel Poetry is primarily a collection of 62 poems that offer advice (and admonition) for Christian living. Poem titles include, “Live For Jesus,” “Hold On To God,” “Don’t Let The Devil Ride,” and “Give God Thanks.”
Toward the end of the book, the author includes a section titled “Readings,” complete with its own table of contents for 14, single-paragraph, prose offerings that are similar to the poems in content. Four more sections follow: “Questions to Ask Yourself”; “Questions and Answers” (a short Bible knowledge quiz); “Thoughts of the Week” (example: “Follow Christ and not the crowd”); and finally, two songs written by the author.
When it comes to the poetry, Juanita Simmons typically follows an AAAA rhyme pattern but is sometimes inconsistent among the stanzas of a single poem, which can be jarring. In addition, she often relies on near-, rather than true rhyme.
Though heartfelt, most of the messages are simplistic, lacking any striking poetic imagery or lyricism (“Thank God I got Jesus on my side;/ I want him to be my guide”). As such, they are unlikely to bring readers to new epiphanies or insights about the world or their faith. Another, much more minor problem, is that Simmons incorrectly capitalizes every word in the poem titles and includes a “poem index” that is not alphabetized and lacks page numbers.
Simmons writes with sincerity and a love for her Lord. The folksy simplicity of the work may be its greatest merit, although this is also the reason the book won’t appeal to readers used to more accomplished poetry. While the author doesn’t deliver work of advanced literary merit, those looking for down-home, church-talk, preach-it-from-the-heart sentiments may enjoy The Gospel Poetry.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.