Grace Leads, I Follow:  Poems of Trauma and Transformations

Lisa A. Bertsch
Cielo Publishing (2015)
ISBN 9780692226537
Reviewed by Tammy Petty Conrad for Reader Views (05/16)

It is interesting that when we suffer in some way, many of us take our thoughts to paper, rather than letting them roll around in our heads. It is a healthy release and can often benefit others. In “Grace Leads, I Follow” by Lisa A. Bertsch, this poet has done just that. When you read the collection sequentially, you can feel the pain, but also feel that there is a transformation in the end.

It may be I am drawn to Bertsch because she’s a yoga teacher or maybe because she sings in a sacred music ensemble. Actually, it’s because of her poetry. This is her first poetry collection, but the slim volume has over 40 poems. Moving in Matter spoke to me first: 

I am here

Broken or whole-

What does it matter?

 It goes on to say:

Reach forth,

Grab something.

Start the beauteous stumbling dance

            Of God in flesh-

Moving in matter….

Yes, I agree, just do something; get started, whatever state you are in! Other poems remind me of the turmoil a friend is going through (The Cavern of Your Heart). Lost Dreams starts with a depressing voice of desires left behind, but then readers are reminded to “…Dust off your lost dreams.” I will share this book with my friend and underline this message. I hope she gets it, as our poet has!

When No Words Come makes me think about when I’m walking in the mornings, out in nature with no words, only a smile. Bertsch shares that “This is when I am most a poet.” We are all poets at times. The poem from which the title comes, Grace Appears, speaks gently:

…Now dancing the dance

Grace leads,

I follow.

With her hand

I attempt a dance

More splendid

More beautiful

Than I imagined possible

In my mere humanness.


But the last poem Knit in Infinity speaks the loudest to me based on today’s current world:

You cannot take my God from me-

Not with your pain

Not with your fear.


We are knit in infinity,

God and I….

The poet continues to share the strength of her faith and I applaud her for standing up.

Reading the collection of poems in “Grace Leads, I Follow” by Lisa A. Bertsch has reminded me that poetry is like a memorable song. A poem can take you places, just like a song. In this case, the poems take readers to places they’ve been before or places they may be afraid to go. But, with carefully orchestrated words, the poet ensures that we are comforted and know we will come out on the other side, transformed. And, isn’t that what we all want?

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