Beloved: Jeannine Gibson

Written by Dulcy B. Hooper
Photos by Joanne Maisano 

“There is a story for every single poem I have ever written,” says Jeannine Gibson, talking about her recently published book, “Beloved: Poems, Praise & Prayers.” “Even the dedication is a poem.” And indeed it is — a poetic acknowledgement of those whom Gibson has “journeyed with through the long and winding way.”  

Her book is the result of many years of others urging Gibson to write. While she has been “writing for as long as I can remember,” Gibson’s time was primarily occupied raising her three children while simultaneously navigating the demands of a busy career as a marketing and branding executive. “Even then,” she says, “I wouldn’t just sit down for the purpose of writing, even if I had the time. Things would just come to me and I would note them down.”

As Gibson began to share her poetry and other writings, she was encouraged by the reactions to her words. “I never wrote in a way that I shared publicly,” she remembers. “I just wrote. I would sometimes be inspired to write things for people and then they would say, ‘Oh, you need to let others hear that.’ And then about 15 years ago, my dad passed away, and one of the last things he said to me was ‘Just write.’”

Gibson notes that her poems are not written “in the kind of language that would indicate you have to know ancient history or anything like that. They are about loss, love, hope, [and] being vulnerable.”  

Surrounded by encouragement to publish her poetry, Gibson recalls that several individuals urged her to go the route of self-publishing. “I just didn’t want to do that, though,” Gibson says. “I knew from being in the marketing field that the collaboration and creative process is much better when you work with a team of experts.”

In 2020, one of Gibson’s sisters died of COVID-19. In the months just prior, while staying with Gibson, her sister had taken on the task of loading Gibson’s poems onto a laptop. “She had been staying with me, but had just moved back to Nashville before getting sick. So after she died, I had to bring everything back to Warrenton, including her laptop.”

A few weeks later, Gibson was put in touch with Freiling Publishing, a local publisher. “I thought I would have to go to New York or somewhere to meet with them,” Gibson remembers. “I sent an email and said ‘Someone said I should talk with you,’ and I was really surprised when he said, ‘We just moved to Warrenton.’ In my backyard! The publisher asked me how long I had been writing, and when I said, ‘Oh, about 15 years,’ he said, ‘Good — this isn’t going to need too much editing.’”

Prior to putting the selection together, Gibson says that she completed a two-year study inspired by “Psalms By the Day by Alec Motyer. “Poetry begets poetry, and the psalms are poetry,” she explains. Gibson had to select 50 poems from the hundreds she had written, finishing the book on her sister’s laptop.

Here is one of the poems from the book, reprinted with the author’s permission:

Better than you

I’m better than you
Because I don’t do what you do

I hold the upper hand
This you must understand

I’m head and shoulders above you
In all I say, think, act and do.

I won’t put these well-worn stones down
No, I’ll keep picking them up from off the ground

Throwing them straight at you
Because I don’t do what you do

Don’t you realize
Don’t you know

You’re half. Not whole.
Not like me at all

Though I hate watching you succumb and fall
A part of me perversely delights in what I see

Because it just goes to show what I know
That I’m better than you. Because I don’t do what you do.

I haven’t become someone like you
I would never do what you do.

No. I am so much worse
Reciting chapter and verse

Shutting you down
Watching you drown

Just so I can keep my proud place
On this lonely, higher ground.

What does Gibson envision going forward?  

“I would love to be able to work with a bunch of artists who want to compile art that would go with different poems,” Gibson says. “I would love to make greeting cards that would express empathy on different levels, something that you could hand to someone as a way of saying, ‘I know what you are going through.’”

“Beloved: Poems, Praise & Prayers” by Jeannine Gibson is available in hard copy or Kindle format on Amazon. Gibson also shares her poems and the stories that inspired them with local organizations. For more information, email: jeanninelgibson@comcast.net. ML

This article first appeared in the February 2022 Issue.

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