Christianity and Literature
"Jellema's focus may well be on the minute, yet the scope of the poet's vision is, by no means, small. . . These are wise poems that seek to teach us to be patient, to dwell in mystery, 'to be unafraid in the dark.'"
Christianity & Literature
"Reading these chastely-chiseled compositions provides a pleasure of a high order — health to the mind and challenges to live reflectively. They prove the truth of [Czeslaw] Milosz's observation that 'One clear stanza can take more weight / Than a whole wagon of elaborate prose.'"
Midwest Book Review
"A Slender Grace is emotional, captivating, deftly penned, and speaks directly to the heart in a body of inspiring work urging the reader to never surrender to despair."
"Rod Jellema writes about the real world of freight trains, Eden, dogs, death, jukeboxes, summer houses, Nicaragua, and ice picks. He also writes about the fissures he finds in this real world — the lonely cracks between light and dark, sound and silence, now and then, us and ourselves. He pries at the cracks like a man opening an oyster. Inside the oyster are transcendence and redemption. How beautiful. How real."
Barbara Brown Taylor
"While more and more of us doubt our faith could pass scrutiny by the full light of day, these poems find good news in the dark. Whether he sets us down in front of blind Willie Johnson playing the blues or asks us to spend a night on the bare floor of a church in Nicaragua, Rod Jellema teaches us to see what he sees — slender revelations flung toward us by the veiled but gracious God who means to lead us home."
"Today, with our human species on the brink of various political-ecological catastrophes, we look for poetry that faces the worst and earns its own being. Rod Jellema's Slender Grace spares us nothing of our searing knowledge of Treblinka, or of the ravaged villagers of Nicaragua, or of the persecution of artistic spirit, or of our mania in the Middle East. His intuitive need in this 'age of glare' for redemptive mystery and darkness, as this need generates his poems, is profound and moving. This is a strong, welcome, consoling book."
"Rod Jellema, like most mystics, starts small and ends large. He looks into a dryer in a Laundromat and suddenly he is at the river, pounding on his clothes with a rock — past and present merged. He looks at a green bean and sees 'the holy scent of turned earth / slendered into a bean.' But he is a mystic who never becomes mystical; he never loses touch with the earth. He is a poet of deep and humane good sense who's infused with an abiding awareness of the holy. There is much more than a slender grace in A Slender Grace."
"The slender grace of a sudden thought / that takes you past your self. . . .' Rod Jellema could be describing moments in so many of these thoughtful, beautifully realized poems, whether they are describing green beans or van Gogh or an Eden after the fall. This is perhaps his strongest collection."
"Rod Jellema regards a various world with love and patience, and records with energetic precision his encounters with it. His sense of a brief instant's emotional weight is unerring."
John H. Timmerman
"I have been reading Rod Jellema's beautifully crafted poetry for the better part of three decades, each time having my sense of wonder refreshed. With A Slender Grace Rod captures whole and clean Joseph Conrad's description of the writer's task: 'He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives.' What a stunning, perfectly controlled work this is, with that same depth of wisdom, insight, and mystery that readers have learned to associate with Rod. The illuminating introduction, moreover, in itself makes the volume worthwhile."
"In A Slender Grace Rod Jellema sounds like the spiritual heir of Henry Vaughan. His verse essays, epistles, meditations, and disquisitions upon things and emotions wrestle with what really matters — how to live, finding and valuing love, loss, and music. His poems are latter-day dialogues of self-and-soul."