Through my involvement with writing and representing artists for over 40 years, I have become highly aware of the vitally essential role of artistic expression in a modern society with an ever-increasing need for deeply human creative communication.
I recently had the great pleasure of virtually attending Jude Neale's launch of her recent book of poetry The River Answers (Ekstasis Editions). The poems Jude read in her 20-minute presentation fully embody the reasons this much-loved and respected Bowen Islander has become a nationally and internationally acclaimed poet, as well as gaining widespread recognition as an exquisitely talented spoken-word artist.
While I normally have a facility with words, I cannot pay a greater tribute to Jude's deeply soulful, classic poetry and spoken art and to her immense depth of feeling than to say that her reading left me overwhelmed and speechless. Jude's natural ability to bring her deeply heartfelt, soulful poems to life through the spoken word gives voice not only to her own heart but also to the universal heart we all share. In doing so, her poetry attains the level of transcendence that reaches beyond the words, the transcendent manifestation of love itself.
And here we arrive at the crux of the matter, at the vitally essential role in the quintessential purity of Jude Neale's soul revealing and affirming poetry. By pouring every drop of her humanity and feeling into each of her poems, Jude's poetry lays bare the essence of our own humanity and the ever compelling reality of love at the centre of each human life. In doing so, her poetry also opens the portal to the healing and reintegration of our true human nature.
In showing us a complete surrender to the path of love, Jude's poetry points the way to humanity's fundamental salvation and transformation. Her poetry contains the message of all great art, visionaries and spiritual masters, which is to reclaim our hearts and the love within them in all of our thoughts, feelings, words and actions.
In Jude's own words: "I try and transform people in all of my interactions, be it singing, teaching or writing. If I can leave a wake of love behind me, I'll have lived a good life.”
In poems such as "My First Date,” Small Gifts,” "The River Answers,” "The Discovery,” "The Bird,” "The Knowing,” "Deliverance,” "Something To Say,” "Teddy Bear's Picnic,” "The Beautiful Truth of You,” "The Bowl,” "Where We Stood" and "Dancing Free," Jude leaves her wake of love in all of life's interactions, with a compelling depth of feeling that educates and moves the human heart in each turn of phrase.
These are poems that weave a tapestry of life experiences that reflect the common thread of daily human lives. The implicit cry of the heart in each molecule of Jude's writing is the impassioned exhortation to fully live life from the depths of one's being, within the diamond clear, full hearted conviction that to live life is to live love with each breath of our existence.
In an unbroken stream of poetic expression, the reader is transported on the river that freely flows within that woven tapestry of life and love. A tapestry revealed in poems such as "My First Date,” the sweet gentleness of an earnest teenaged love, "Small Gifts,” a childhood reminiscence of a father's story in the warmth of a "love happy" family, "The Bird,” the blissful wonderment at the trail of beauty in the flight of a hummingbird, "The Bowl," a mother's fathomless love for a son who has bestowed a gift upon her, and "Dancing Free,” a grandmother's "longing to go higher and deeper within each moment," expressed as her heartfelt gift for her beloved grandchildren "dancing forward unencumbered and free."
In Jude's poems, we find essential meditations on living love in our daily lives, meditations that connect us fully with the beating heart of our shared, fundamental humanity. As Jude writes in "Teddy Bear's Picnic": "He told me love was simple, that it always comes down to yes or no.”
Resoundingly, compellingly, passionately and open-heartedly, Jude Neale's poetry brings us face to face with that simple, yet momentous choice that holds the key to the transformation of our world, this act of the heart of saying yes to love in each moment of our lives.