As the author I hardly know how to describe Diamonds in a Stony Field by Alla Renée Bozarth, other than to say that it is a poetry collection of selections from 1982-2022, and the poems address historical events, literature, world-travels, and deeply personal experiences and perspectives with the underlying themes of loss and redemptive grace. In addition to my 40 years as a Gestalt therapist, I’m one of the 15 Episcopal priests who cracked the stained glass ceiling in 1974 and 1975 by becoming the first women in the priesthood, with the help of brave and conscientious male bishops. I understand prejudice from personal experience. But this book isn’t directly about that. Its scope is broader. From my own stories and those of people in all walks of life, I can speak of the process of making one’s way, with help from others, through seemingly impossible situations, including war, poverty, family rejection, natural disasters, long illness, and chronic or recurring prejudice. I can testify that grace, grit and endurance can lead to breakthrough. When people work together, institutions can also become transformed. Where hatred prevailed, justice and kindness can take over and grow. Exploring stony fields, we may discover diamonds. Sometimes boulders in the way can serve as leaning stones while we catch our breath or lie low for a time. And we notice how smaller stones break open to reveal diamonds inside that can capture sunlight.
Over the years readers have responded to individual poems in this collection: “You draw on waters of a well you have dug and filled, with a lifetime of spiritual reflections and observations about the cosmos and the human condition within the cosmos— emerging as truth, dressed up in the magnificent language of poetry. This is soul-talk. Thank you for finding distinctive images that touch us in so many remarkable ways.” Rolf Gompertz, author of My Jewish Brother Jesus.
“Your poems come from such a deep and holy place, and my similar place responds like a child waking up.” Elizabeth Oakes
“You truly live the gospel and cry it out with your life and your craft. Your writings, all that I’ve read, are like a stream of living water that flows deep from within your soul. Thank you so much!” Brother Michael St. Jacques
“Alla Renée Bozarth, thank you for these poems and writings. Thank you for watching the world for us.” Ruthanne Bullock, teacher, Welches, Oregon
“You are a precious link, the tuning fork! One of the Tuners, vibrating brilliantly here in a human form, expressing Love as well so others may trust your revelations in poetry, which frees the deep and heavy thoughts so they may flow. Enlightened— the perfect word! Thank you, Alla Renée Bozarth, your heart on fire always.” Carol Grigg, artist, poet and singer.
This is what my dedicated copy editor, Peter Converse, wrote after reading the manuscript, as addressed to future readers: “I remember thinking while reading Alla’s poems about Hurricane Katrina, and again the poems about the women she clearly considers mentors and saints, that I was reading ‘poetry of record,’ just as The New York Times is the nation’s newspaper of record. She fleshes out the details most newscasters and historians leave out. Some poems were painful and despairing to read, some were uplifting and hopeful, but all are calls to examine one’s self and to re-evaluate one’s understanding of self, historical events, women, humanity. The title she chose for the collection is perfect. Some of the painful stones in the field are sharp-edged diamonds that are invaluable sources of hope and faith and love if we will only stop long enough to risk picking them up and then carry their lessons with us. I dare you to walk across the stony field and read them all. You’ll be a more loving and compassionate resident of the planet by the time you’re done.”