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Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination and Spirit: A Reflection on Creativity and Faith [Hardcover]

By Luci Shaw (Author)
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Item description for Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination and Spirit: A Reflection on Creativity and Faith by Luci Shaw...

Here is a rich and thought-provoking exploration of art, creativity and faith.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Thomas Nelson
Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.3" Width: 5.6" Height: 1"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 30, 2007
Publisher   Thomas Nelson
ISBN  0849903343  
ISBN13  9780849903342  

Availability  0 units.

More About Luci Shaw

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Luci Shaw, author of Colossians, is writer-in-residence at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. The author of several books of poetry and prose, including The Angles of Light and Friends for the Journey (with Madeleine L'Engle), Shaw lectures on the arts, poetry, and Christian spirituality and leads frequent writers' workshops.

Luci Shaw currently resides in Chicago.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Fiction & Poetry

Christian Product Categories
Books > Inspiration > Motivation > Biography & Autobiography

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Reviews - What do customers think about Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination and Spirit: A Reflection on Creativity and Faith?


Breath for the Bones is a red hardcover with a yellow book jacket that evokes marbled paper. At the beginning, the "Note to Readers" states: "This book is the compilation of many poignant words found in Luci Shaw's writings, lecture notes, workshops, journals, interviews, essays, and poems. Any gaps and spaces throughout the text reflect the quilting together of these materials to form a meaningful sequence of concepts with a thought-provoking readability" (p. vii). As a 20 year reader of Shaw's poetry and prose, I am grateful to have so many of her reflections on faith and art in one place.

The Introduction begins with Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NRSV): "Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother's womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything" (p. ix). As Shaw explains, faith and art are "breath for the bones to each other" (p. x). This is the book's major theme, and it is developed in many ways. Intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects of being a writer who is a Christian are all addressed. Some days I read this book and find an encouraging conversation with a trusted author; other days it brings me into a writer's workshop and challenges me to work harder on craft. I have also been blessed with new insights into the construction of poems that have helped me through difficult times--one of the rewards of rereading.

This book has two major parts. Part One is "The Basics of Creativity: Foundations of the Creative Process." Examples of its titles include "Entering into Beauty" and "Meeting the God of Metaphor." Part Two is "The Details of Creativity: Exploring the Creative Process." There are also six chapters in this section, with titles including "Understanding the Shadow Side of Creativity" and "Tracing the Creative Process of Poets and Poems." Appendix A then offers writing assignments and discussion questions. Appendix B is a recommended reading list for further study and enjoyment.

Breath for the Bones concludes with a long list of Acknowledgments and Notes. Among others, Luci Shaw honors Lil Copan "...for her gift--many weeks of her own time unraveling into a coherent whole the tangled mess of essays, lectures, poems, and journal notes that I had thrust upon her. With skill and efficiency she sorted and reordered materials of mine in a task that had seemed impossible to me, too close as I was to my own writing" (p. 202). This expression of gratitude pictures perfectly the rich and generous nature of the entire book. It is indeed a beautiful quilt. (Reprinted with permission from Time of Singing; Fall, 2008. [...])

A book to read and contemplate  Jul 16, 2008
"I am a poet, not a scholar," says Luci Shaw in the last chapter of BREATH FOR THE BONES. And as a poet, she has provided a book for people interested in the mysteries of muse and the process of creating. The book jacket features type (words) only, no distinctive graphics other than a few swirls of color. To clarify the picture, the publisher has printed lots of words, even a subtitle to the subtitle: Art, Imagination, and Spirit: Reflections on Creativity and Faith."

An upfront "note to readers" acknowledges that this book is "the compilation of many poignant words found in Luci Shaw's writings, lecture notes, workshops, journals, interviews, essays, and poems." It is the retrospective that might be expected of --- and hoped for --- from a writer who has aged into a respected "seasoned" category.

Shaw may not be a theologian, but it's hard for her to conceal her training, as a child schooled in a parsonage and as a one-time college student who minored in New Testament Greek (with a major in English). There's theological reflection here, evidenced in chapters titled "Discovering the Creative Heart of God" and "Meeting the God of Metaphor," both placed in part 1, again, comprehensively titled ("The Basics of Creativity: Foundations of the Creative Process"). And a subsequent chapter starts off by proposing that the Holy Spirit is the muse of the Christian poet. Like the biblical writers themselves, Shaw turns to similitudes to explain the workings of the Spirit --- or breath --- of God. "I cannot turn on the writing art or transcendence like a faucet. My job is to wait and see --- literally to wait for the Spirit, with the Spirit, and to see."

Though it is far from a how-to manual, part 2 includes content that is a bit more "hands-on," summarized as "The Details of Creativity: Exploring the Creative Process." I especially enjoyed chapters on journal writing and risk taking. Young writers or artists can learn so much from Shaw --- that creating is a process: "As a keeper of a daily reflective journal, I find that as soon as I put words and ideas onto paper [or computer]...they begin to gather to themselves more images, more words and ideas." And that a creative life calls for risk. Shaw's writing is most engaging when it's personal and anecdotal; her risk chapter includes an extended account of a sailing expedition with metaphorical overtones. And a final chapter summary? "Perhaps the role of those involved in the arts, then, is to awaken ourselves and others to beauty --- in all its risk and in all its richness."

An appendix gives chapter-by-chapter "writing exercises and questions for discussion." It's a shame that these don't appear throughout the book, so as to be more "in your face" when the material is fresh in your mind. Be sure to read and contemplate the questions as you take a breath and exercise your bones at the end of a particular chapter.

--- Reviewed by Evelyn Bence

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