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When Jesus Came to Shreveport: Poems

Justine Courtney Reilly, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This manuscript builds upon two major areas of my research study: women's spiritual feminism and religious writing; and poetry, specifically poetry that engages the themes of family, Catholicism, and Southern culture (regionalism). As a spiritual feminist, I am interested in joining the conversation of other women spiritual writers who have found many aspects of the Judeo-Christian hegemonic tradition challenging, demanding, and often severe towards women. These women writers have attempted to find connection to the Divine in many new ways, for example: through embracing and privileging their own voices and experiences; through devising new patterns of spirituality that do not focus on traditional religion; or through revisioning images, icons, and texts (especially the Bible) central to Judeo-Christian culture. In my own writing, I look for the Divine both in my experiences as a woman and as a Catholic Christian. ^ My poetry, therefore, represents my contribution to the discourse begun by other women writers as well as my own continuing search for spiritual connection as a Catholic. In the process of writing these poems, I have discovered new appreciation both for the many spiritual feminist essayists, poets, critics, and fiction writers that I have been blessed to read, as well as developed a deeper level of faith—a faith solidly grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition passed down to us by men. But also included are poems about my family and images of the South that have been so formative in my poetic development, elements whose significance did not reveal themselves to me until I became an expatriate Southern writer in Nebraska. Besides religion, what endures is family, and the persistence and Longevity of the South. I needed the distance that Nebraska afforded me in order to see. ^ Finally, what bridges my spiritual/religious poems with my secular poems is the notion of witnessing. Not only do I witness my experience with Jesus, but I give witness to my life as a woman and a poet. ^

Subject Area

Literature, American

Recommended Citation

Reilly, Justine Courtney, "When Jesus Came to Shreveport: Poems" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3176801.