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Kingdom Poets: Luci Shaw

Luci Shaw is one of the most significant Christian poets of our time. She takes on topics of significance to people of faith, yet refuses to undermine her art with preconceived, didactic ways of thinking, or sentimentality. One important topic for Shaw is the incarnation.

Since childhood, Luci Shaw has annually written Christmas poems; originally the practice was simply for inclusion with her Christmas correspondence. As her poetic skills grew, so did the quality and quantity of these poems. In 1996, she and her friend Madeleine L’Engle released the book Wintersong — a joint collection of Christmas readings. Ten years later Eerdmans published Accompanied By Angels, a book of Shaw’s incarnation poems, many of which had appeared in her earlier books.

Since then, this tradition continues to result in fine Christmas poetry. In 2004 Luci Shaw sent me an early version of the following poem — followed by a revised version in 2005. The poem was further revised (as reproduced below) for inclusion in her 2006 collection What The Light Was Like (Wordfarm). Knowing how she continually returns to fine-tune her work, I would not be surprised to find she has since revised it further.

Breath When in the cavern darkness, the child first opened his mouth (even before his eyes widened to see the supple world his lungs had breathed into being), could he have known that breathing trumps seeing? Did he love the way air sighs as it brushes in and out through flesh to sustain the tiny heart’s iambic beating, tramping the crossroads of the brain like donkey tracks, the blood dazzling and invisible, the corpuscles skittering to the earlobes and toenails? Did he have any idea it would take all his breath to speak in stories that would change the world?

Posted with permission of the poet.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Luci Shaw.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at:


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