Cover Image: The Heart’s Necessities

The Heart’s Necessities

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Gorgeous collection of poetry that is easy to read and that you can really connect with.  This would be a great collection to recommend to others.
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The Heart’s Necessities is a book with at least four layers. The foundation layer is a selection of poems by Jane Tyson Clement, written over a period of more than fifty years and mostly unpublished during the poet’s life. Each section of poems, arranged in roughly chronological order, is introduced by a brief biographical sketch — the second layer — giving insight into the quiet but strong spirit behind this lifetime of work.

This would all be interesting enough, but there’s a third layer of commentary by Becca Stevens, a rising young singer-songwriter who discovered Jane’s poetry when looking for lyrics for a song to honor a friend who had died. Becca eventually set five of Jane’s songs to music and developed a deep sense of connection and admiration for her as a person and an artist, which shines through her personal notes on some of the poems that have been most meaningful to her. And finally, going beyond the printed page, you can watch and listen to Becca playing her songs here.

One can obviously approach this book in a number of ways. Some music-lovers will be interested in getting to the source of the lyrics they have enjoyed. Others with a connection to the Bruderhof, the Christian community that Jane joined as an adult, will appreciate following her spiritual path as revealed through her life and work. (Plough is the publishing house of the Bruderhof, which produces a wide range of titles on spiritual life, social issues, education, and more.)

I was simply intrigued to delve into the work of an unknown poet who seemed to have such appeal in a variety of directions. I found her simple, unpretentious style very appealing, and free of the strenuous word-wrestling that I often find off-putting in contemporary poetry. These are the poems of someone who is trying to think with the heart, with honesty and compassion.

Though Jane’s  faith was the center of her life, her poems seldom speak explicitly of God or Jesus. When they do, it is not in a narrow sectarian way, but as a universal creative presence, a spirit of love. Mostly, she writes from her personal perspective about nature, the people she cares for, her evolving ideals of peace and justice, and the paradoxical mix of sorrow and joy that makes up our life.

I’m so glad to have met these poems, and the songs that inspired them, and will find these words enriching my life for a long time to come. I am grateful for the permission to share a few samples with you below; to learn more or purchase the book, please check out this page.
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A beautiful book with poems and biography. I liked the peacefully feeling of the book and the nice pictures. Thanks to NetGalley for providing the arc .
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Review by Judith Robinson
The Heart’s Necessities Life in Poetry 
Jane Tyson Clement with Becca Stevens
Plough Publishing House, 2019
The Heart’s Necessities Life in Poetry presents poems from 1935 to 1991 by Jane Tyson Clement against a background of her life and work. Throughout the volume, the young, acclaimed musician Becca Stevens discusses the poems that have influenced her as a song writer and performer, beginning with her composition “Tillery” that combines Jane’s poem “Winter” with Becca’s music (see You Tube, Bruderhof to Brooklyn. A Poem’s Journey).  This layered collection explores timeless themes and the power of creativity in two women artists across genres and generations.  
Jane’s poetic voice at times seems quiet and restrained in our unquiet time, but her imagery that continues to draw on natural elements such as the sea and wind suggests a passionate response to powerful forces developing within her as a woman and poet. Her rich interiority depends on entering “my sound / the sound of silence,” the place of reflection that nurtured the creativity that claimed an essential part of her life filled with other callings as well. Her repeated images of darkness and light take on new and deeper meanings as her poetry shows her movement from god in nature to God in the world, and to God beyond the world. 
Her deceptively simple style that is largely centered on the beauty and mystery of nature leads the reader to reflect on the un-natural world often devoid of beauty and filled with despair and finds that the poet confirms the weight of estrangement and suffering that can overwhelm our perceptions. As a young poet, Jane vows to “fight” to become a poet but struggles when it seems that “Words are a symbol of a mind’s defeat” even as words continue to express her private yearnings and questions. 
The scope of her mature poems finds words for the starving child, the homeless, and the imprisoned resulting from our shared failings: “We still pluck the Apple, / we still hide / when God walks in the Garden.” Yet her poem “Resolve” chooses to expand her vision that refutes complacency: “My sins are gentle and refined, / my friends the gentle friends of God; / I must go seek the publicans, / the wild companions of my Lord.” This collection reminds us of the need for reflection in artists and those who experience their art. It also illuminates how the voices and gifts of artists across time can speak to young artists’ own creativity as they continue to expand our individual and communal vision in new ways.
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I recently finished reading The Heart’s Necessities: Life in Poetry by Jane Tyson Clement and Becca Stevens. It shares the story of Jane Tyson Clement’s life, which was woven throughout with poetry.

She began writing poems as a teenager, and that is the way she seemed to best express herself. As a young woman, she married, had children, and, for a season, moved from the States to a Bruderhof community in South America. Jane was a lively teacher and a loving wife and mother, who always had poems singing through her head and heart. Her poetry was wound up in Nature and in the intricacies of her daily life.

Becca Stevens is a songwriter who has been influenced by Jane’s poems and wanted to share these quiet and beautiful gems with the world. She wrote the book with a chapter on Jane’s life, interspersed with snippets of poetry, lovely photos of nature, several poems at the end of each chapter, followed by Becca’s reflections on Jane’s life and poetry.

This book would make a wonderful gift for a poetry lover or songwriter, or for anyone longing for a glimpse at how the ordinary life is transformed through poetry.
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DNF at 23%. 

I was unable to continue reading this. It became apparent very quickly that it is just not my kind of poetry, so much so that I couldn't power through, and I didn't want to finish and give it a star rating lower than it deserves due to a lack of connection on my part.

*Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for access to this collection in exchange for an honest review.*
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A very interesting story that was not able to sustain my attention for the totality of the narrative. An admirable attempt.
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A title, THE HEART'S NECESSITIES, is set on an amazing 
background of pictures that are uniquely disperced throughout 
the story of beautifully written poetry. Some are so sad and 
others let the reader know of happier days long gone by. 
Take for instance, one of these beautiful poems that lifted me 
up after I read it was titled, CHRIST THE SHEPHERD. Wonderfully 
written and is something that the eye will truly and surprisingly 
love to see. And, along with the ending a picture that, once the 
reader looks upon it would see, and in order to get the amazing 
effect of a beautiful life, and person that would have been a blessing 
to get to know. I think the last picture and the poem titled, MANASQUAN INLET 
II, go hand-in-hand to make a remarkable meaning. Great book of poetry. 
Beautiful pictures. Especially the ending.
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