Last updated on March 27th, 2019 at 09:33 pm

Front cover - Numinous book review

NUMINOUS: Poems conceived within moments of spiritual ecstasy

Leila A. Fortier

[Saint Julian Press, Inc., 118 pages]

“For when my body turns to dust… I will ever / Be Your single breath in form of a living prayer.” In her recent book of devotional poetry, Numinous, Leila A. Fortier addresses the divine in this way. However, by writing the poems within this book, some might say she has already been acting as a living prayer of sorts.

Fortier doesn’t write about the divine from a place of detachment, as some separate entity. Instead, she writes about offering herself up to a deity, as incomplete and imperfect as she is, to merge with the forces of spirit, dissolving into its waves and devoting her life completely to spiritual service. As she says in one poem, “Divine Apparition,” which details a time during which God sent her a vision that revealed her destiny, “my purpose is to serve.”

Fortier’s poems have all been spontaneously inspired by communication with the world of spirit, and she uses italics and the tilde (~) to illustrate the fluidity of this communication, and her consequent outpouring of words. Each of her poems also appears unique, visually, on its page; some are presented in a circular fashion, some are oval-shaped, and some have even been written in a zig-zag pattern, just to name a few configurations. This suggests that she has been divinely guided to write her lines in certain ways, depending on each particular experience she was having at the time she was writing each poem.

Each poem is full of wonderful tidbits of spiritual insight; however, there are several themes that are consistently present throughout the entire book. One is the minimization of earthly desires and materialism in order to focus on God and spirituality, and the other is the willingness to undergo temporary anguish to attain the true freedom and knowledge that comes from developing a relationship with God. Within “Losing Self,” Fortier says, “For you I did sacrifice all opportunity for the tangible lover / and the tangible life.” This poem, in its entirety, is about the poet’s voluntary loss of herself, which she knows will help her gain “sacred knowledge.” Actually, Fortier so frequently talks about the divine in a way that a person would typically talk about their “tangible” lover, often referring to its kiss, that a reader with little background knowledge of her poetry might think she is referring to a human soulmate.

A term that comes up quite often within the poems of Numinous is “alchemy,” which is the process of mixing two things of little value together to create something of greater value. Fortier uses the word in poems such as “Kundalini Rising,” “Chrysalis,” “Covet,” and “The Hidden Dimension,” to illustrate that human pleasures, pains and prayers are all quite basic on their own, but once received by and mixed with the essential qualities of the divine, they become something universally valuable.

While Fortier’s poems are quite intense and complex, and the metaphors and symbolism used within some of them may be fairly difficult to understand at first, anyone who has felt a strong sense of connection with a spiritual force will likely be able to relate to them after a few close readings. The first step, when it comes to understanding poems like this, seems to be taking an intellectual interest in what the poet has to say; if you’re able to move beyond that to the next stage, feeling the poet’s emotions and letting them move you, you may feel like, albeit momentarily, as if you’ve been transplanted into a living prayer yourself.

Read a selection of Fortier’s poetry in VISUAL POEMS BY LEILA FORTIER: Synchro-Destiny, This Moment, Universal>>

image: Silhouette via Shutterstock
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