Sheryl Loeffler’s ear and eye for images, words, rhythms and cadence of language are vividly evident in her new book A Land in the Storytelling Sea. The vibrant imagery of language and the vivid hues of pictures come together into an experience that brings the Mediterranean islands of Malta to throbbing life. Her poetry and photographs cause this storied land to come alive for the reader who has not been there. As such, she is engaging the profane and the spiritual in ways that give the viewer and reader a sense of the Infinite amidst daily experience. The crusty beggar demanding food for his feral cat, the cathedral bells calling to whatever, the red hibiscus, the mosquito bite, and the internet café, distill into the mystery of something more profound.
Wallace Stevens, the American poet says that, “…one’s consciousness and expression through language are spiritual acts and … that poetry replaces belief in the absolute…. The imagination is what we have in the absence of God…”
Sheryl Loeffler through imagination takes the commonplace of a unhinged window, an abandoned boat, the poetic image of the rent collector or a poem about the City Walls and makes it all a sacred journey through the life she encounters every day. Her poems sing with all the cadence of inspired choral music; her narrative leads us through twenty-four hours of flight to and around the islands of Malta on an evocative journey of discovery, even revelation. Her pictures are filled with the bright hues of blues, yellows, greens, reds and blacks of this ancient island of empires and religions. We travel the journey – not quite an interloper, more an unknown confidant – hearing, seeing, singing and praying to Mary, Alla, Jesus, and the mythology of antiquity, woven by mystery, imagination and skill into a vibrant canvas of life.
Sheryl Loeffler’s first book, intertwining the music of poetry and the imagery of photography, is a marvelous start to what I hope will be the first of many.
Grant MacDonald, D.D.