The poems in God is a Laughing Bedouin are a journey through a life lived, set with and against a spirituality that is imbued into the collection in ways that any reader can relate to. The poems evoke powerful emotions and responses, and bear witness to the world around us with keen eyes, cutting edge, and relentless reality. Many of the poems have a spiritual tone, inspired by the poet’s experience of forty days of silence in the gracious company of the Jesuits at Loyola House in Guelph, Ontario. Biblical characters as portrayed as flawed and part of the human condition, illuminating the universal emotions that are explored in the poems. These poems are written with imagination, feminism, humour, at times breathtaking use of images and language and will appeal to both the agnostic and the spiritual reader.
“By turns reverent and irreverent, God is a Laughing Bedouin puts a human face on the Biblical story and confronts the stages of a woman’s life with wit and fearlessness. Bryant’s collection reminds me of Colm Toibin’s celebrated The Testament of Mary in its candour and compassion. Playful yet immensely moving, these poems show us what it means to be mortal.”
“It’s rare to encounter poems that break free of conventions. Bryant recognizes this is where poetry’s power is as she turns the questions of aging, spiritual life, intimacy and death inside out. The result is exhilarating.”
“Cullene Bryant’s God Is a Laughing Bedouin is at turns funny, heartbreaking, and sublime. We are in an age in which the territory of the spiritual is disputed, sometimes productively and sometimes destructively, but Bryant’s voice cuts through the noise with a reminder that the highest thoughts are rooted in direct experience. Her poems are wrought from the quotidian suffused with the elevated, and the sublime brought into deep, familiar focus. With these poems, Bryant will shepherd you through to the self you see in others—the self you’ll recognize in these flashes of the eternal.”
“Whether through unflinching and compassionate poems about her work as a hospital chaplain assisting patients during the final days of their lives, or through vivid and often wryly humorous poems about marriage, childbirth, divorce, widowhood, and aging, Cullene Bryant co-mingles the personal and the Biblical to reveal the arc of a rich and varied life. From delight to despair to celebration, these poems explore the presence (or absence) of the Holy with open eyes and an open spirit.”
—Fiona Tinwei Lam
About the Author
Cullene Bryant (June 4,1941-April 23, 2017) was a retired minister in the United Church of Canada, and mother of two and grandmother to 5 grandchildren. She authored two collections of short fiction, Llamas In The Snow (1993) and In the Dry Woods (2005). The title story of the latter collection, “In The Dry Woods,” was awarded the 2006 national Canadian Christian Writing Award. Her stories have aired on CBC radio and appeared in various literary journals, among them Room of One’s Own; Fiddlehead; Descant and The Iowa Review. God is a Laughing Bedouin is her first poetry collection.