Kennedy finishes poetry collection

Published 7:53 am Friday, September 9, 2016

Longtime parish educator Joan Pace Kennedy has been writing poems for a long time.

Her first published poem was printed in 1962, when she was in high school. The poem was about her home economics teacher and it appeared, inauspiciously enough, in the parish’s FHA newsletter. Since then, she’s been a steady writer, writing about love, heartbreak and people she’s known.

“I’ve often said words just seem to come to me,” Kennedy said. “I know that God does it, I know that it’s a God-given gift or talent or whatever you want to say. But for years I’ve shared them, and I’ve been published in lots and lots of church bulletins newspapers and journals and some hardback anthologies.”

This summer, a collection of her work was published as “Love Laughter and Living: Receiving and Sharing Poems from the Heart.”

Kennedy said the anthology was the result of a gentle nudge from her sister.

“In December I turned 70 and my sister said, ‘Joan, it’s now or never,’” she said.

From there, she heard about a small publisher, Parables, that specializes in religious-themed books.

“I say, the Lord just worked it, and I hope that it touches somebody and they get a blessing from it,” she said.

Naturally, many of the poems have a religious theme, and she said the book isn’t to honor her, but God.

“It’s not to pat me on the back, I hope others will enjoy the words,” she said.

One of her personal favorites is “Missy the Missionary,” about a missionary who spoke at a National Guard event.

“We had guest speakers once a month and this lady who was a missionary in Africa, she was from Bogalusa, and she had been there a long time, and when I got home, I got back up and the words just came,” she said.

Kennedy said she couldn’t sleep, as the urge to write was so strong.

“I wrote, ‘A lily among the darkness of skin and understanding,’” she explained. “Where do those words come from? Not plain old Joan. I still have cold chills when I talk about it.”

Kennedy remembered she was deeply moved by hearing the missionary speak about her work among the people of Africa.

“At that time their minds were dark, like their skin, until she spread the word of Jesus,” she said.

Kennedy will be sharing her stories and signing copies of the book at Gayle’s Jewelers in Bogalusa on Thursday, Sept. 15, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Gayle’s is located at 406 S. Columbia St.