Flying Free

Poems for Pilgrim Hearts

Poetry - Inspirational
108 Pages
Reviewed on 04/05/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Ruth Fanshaw has been writing poetry for nearly four decades, either to explore and process her life experiences or to celebrate the things and people she loves.

She has been published in the poetry journal Time of Singing, and is approaching other magazines for publication. 'Flying Free – Poems for Pilgrim Hearts,' her first book release, has garnered five Readers' Favourite five star reviews.

Ruth has a neuro-immune condition called M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). She has also navigated two breakdowns, and many bouts of anxiety and depression.

She is a full-time geek, and wishes you could get paid for that. She’s a huge fan of Doctor Who, NCIS, and The West Wing, and is shamelessly addicted to her favourite band, The Piano Guys.

Ruth has been a committed Christian since 1990. Her faith is the bedrock of her life, and informs all her writing.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jacob R LaMar for Readers' Favorite

Flying Free: Poems for Pilgrim Hearts is an 82-page book of poetry by Ruth Fanshaw. The book consists of many different types of poetry and the author makes a concerted effort to make this known from the beginning by adding a brief description of how each type of poem is written. For the reader who may not know much about poetry, this seems to be a wonderful tool that could spark a love for writing in someone else. With descriptions of Haikus, Cinquains, Free Verse, and Blank Verse, as well as many different forms of rhyme schemes, Fanshaw opens up the world of poetry for the masses. I found this a very helpful tool for prospective viewers to read and identify the type and scheme in each of her pieces.

As far as the quality of the book is concerned, I would be remiss to brush over the first thing you’re likely to notice in this book which is the fabulous cover. Not only is it beautiful but it is well designed to feel complex yet uncluttered. As mentioned, the book contains many forms of poetry, and not all are going to resonate the same with each reader. Personally, I was never a big fan of Haikus (though I feel like the author did them justice) but I absolutely loved the other poems in this book. My favorite was the poem entitled Winging It which embodies many of this book’s strengths such as a wonderful knack for finding rhymes that do not feel forced. However, the main strength of this book has nothing to do with the technical writing of Ruth Fanshaw and resides solely in the undeniably good spirit the author has instilled in the pages. Not to put too fine a point on it but Flying Free: Poems for Pilgrim Hearts is one of the finest poetry books I have read to date and that puts it at or near the top of a very large list.

Edith Wairimu

Flying Free: Poems for Pilgrim Hearts by Ruth Fanshaw is an authentic and heart-warming faith-based poetry collection that reflects on specific moments of life. It instills significant values such as courage, hope, and gratitude while it examines the search for identity and the pursuit of healing and growth. The poems are arranged into three parts that explore pilgrimage and flight, the main themes of the collection. Each part represents a section of a journey with Christ. The first part represents the promising beginning of the exciting journey, the second examines difficult times through the journey but also emphasizes Christ’s presence in it all while the third is a culmination of the beautiful outcome of the journey that includes deep-rooted faith in the character and presence of God.

The collection employs a variety of poetry forms including haiku and free-verse styles. The different structures make the collection fun to reflect on. I loved that I could identify with the themes covered in the poems such as growth, developing confidence, and finding one’s identity. The poems also enable self-reflection such as the poem “This Now” which asks the questions “How can I keep up my courage? /How can I protect my own peace? /How can I keep my Faith thriving? /In this Now?” Others explore encouraging themes about redemption and learning to be hopeful again such as the poem “Degrees of Separation,” a poem about separation, grief, and hope that states, “Though I do not have the joy that you once gave me/ I have many other joys/ I am happy/ as I am.” Poems are often followed by brief explanations that contextualize and provide more information about them and the events that they cover. The collection closes with a beautiful song that expresses how God redeems us from difficult times. By allowing herself to be vulnerable, Ruth Fanshaw reveals impactful, life-changing lessons within the poems in Flying Free.

Tammy Ruggles

Flying Free: Poems for Pilgrim Hearts by Ruth Fanshaw is an inspiring collection of poems. Most if not all of them relate to her personal relationship with God. This poet uses a variety of styles in her poetry, from haiku to free-verse, and this really shows her range as a writer. But the poems show her range of emotionality and beliefs as well. There is a fresh feel to these Christian poems, and you can find deeper meaning in them, possibly making a connection to your own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. You will find themes of healing, finding who you are, and growing as a person and spiritual being. The phrasing echoes symbols of flight and journey, so this volume is aptly titled for a reason. Fanshaw has divided her book into three parts, with the first being finding out who you are as a follower of Christ. In part two, challenges arise, but they are maneuverable with faith and determination. Part three is about the rest that comes with trusting in God and allowing healing to take place. And finally, a song reminiscent of a psalm is placed at the end to wrap things up about God delivering through tough times.

Those new to poetry, or faith-based poetry, will appreciate the author's introduction and explanations of her poems, as she lays out the types of poems she uses, and their purpose and themes. Some people say they don't understand poetry, or can't figure out what it means, so this is the perfect primer for them. It will give such a reader a good idea of where this poet is coming from, and may even encourage some to write poetry themselves. Though the poems are personal to Fanshaw, she hopes they will resonate with readers needing inspiration. As I'm partial to rhyming poems, those are my favorites in this collection, but the themes found in them will definitely be recognized by Christians and those seeking a spiritual experience. The subjects of the poems mention everyday occurrences but have a broader meaning too. In all of them you can feel this poet's sense of worship, and her desire to live a life that is pleasing to God, but you are also reading about some of the poet's life experiences. My favorite part is her song, "The Morning", at the end. If you like poetry with vivid imagery and meaningful themes, Flying Free: Poems for Pilgrim Hearts by Ruth Fanshaw is a must-read.

Asher Syed

Flying Free: Poems for Pilgrim Hearts by Ruth Fanshaw is a compilation of the author's original poetry and songs that use verse to highlight the life and its cycles as a Christian, which Fanshaw styles based on her own personal experiences. The book is broken down into three separate and interconnected parts. Part one shares the feelings and pure outlook of a full heart, attributes and wonder that are most easily expressed through the eyes of a Christian convert or rebirth, although not exclusively. This is achieved with poems like Forward, where the author describes a readiness to begin a journey of new heights. Part two wades into the tide of difficulty that Christians are not immune to, such as in Unshamed, where stigma has attached itself to a remorseful soul only to be washed away in grace. Part three details the maturity of faith and its beauty, as beautifully described in Sunlight.

Flying Free is a raw, honest portrayal of the highs and lows of being a Christian that at equal turns can either weigh down the shoulders, forcing the head into tilted prayer, or elevate through a trust that Ruth Fanshaw speaks of beautifully. Her heart is on full display and the way it shines through in her work is a testament to her convictions. My favorite poem is Finding the Rainbow, an ode to one of the most famous biblical stories known to both believers and non-believers alike. Fanshaw puts double entendres and parallels in the work to allow the reader to connect in verses that reflect struggles and pain of all sizes and puts them into the context of the Lord's promise for troubles big and small. Another interesting takeaway is that Fanshaw writes in multiple poetic styles with perhaps the largest range of diverse formats I've come across by a single author in a single volume of their work. Overall, this is a really lovely compilation and it's wonderful that it is now being shared with the world.

Irene Valentine

In Flying Free: Poems for Pilgrim Hearts, Ruth Fanshaw shares emotional chapters of her life’s journey through poetry. “At evening, I read in the soft-lit quiet. I relish the flow of words, the grace of language.” These few lines from her poem entitled Sunlight epitomize deep contentment and fulfillment, and display the delicious skill Ruth has with words. In her introduction, she offers a simple explanation of the different poetic forms she uses. With each poem, she briefly sets up the context which prompted her writing. She artfully captures the nuances of the season in The Turn of the Year. The week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day - a liminal time that belongs only to itself - something which is likely to resonate with many. Her poems cover a variety of topics: her relationship with God; observations on the spectacular beauty and purpose in nature; the impact of people, music, philosophy, and literature. It seems poetry is often birthed in heartbreak; Ruth includes two poems of lost love, and also her dark trilogy when she faced the unlikelihood that she would become a mother. A few well-chosen words arouse the spirit of adventure and freedom of train journeys in her poem Forward: “I sit by the window. Alert. Expectant. Waiting for the push…Forward into new places.”

Ruth Fanshaw’s Flying Free is aptly titled. Her poetry expresses faith, freedom, and hope. Once I read Ruth’s Introduction, I was curious to continue with her poetry. And once I began, I was enticed to read more. I particularly loved a short 3-line poem (poetic form Haiku) ‘Sabbath: Finding my stillness; my deep heart of quiet joy in my Saviour’s love.” Halcyon Day is another favorite. I could feel an inner warm glow in response to the colorful images in my mind's eye. I enjoy rereading my favorite books, and I expect Flying Free to join this category in my library. The variety of poetic forms would be useful for writers considering expanding their work. I’d also recommend Flying Free to readers who may not have considered venturing into poetry.

Karl Hebblewhite

I'm not usually a reader of poetry but some of these poems really touched me and gave me hope.
You can really feel the emotion put into them.