Author Statement (Published 2003)
My poetry is a cry from my soul to the human race for compassion. And it is one of the ways that I cope with the issues that plague my heart. I began writing poetry my first year in college. In sharp contrast to high school, College opened the door to a broad range of disciplines. I quickly gravitated towards social and cultural studies. In my junior year, I had the opportunity to spend six months in Costa Rica, learning Spanish and working as a counselor at a group home for abused and abandoned the children. Upon my return, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in social work. I divided my senior year into two years in order to work at an elementary school in Altadena, California, as the school guidance counselor. I wrote poetry as an outlet to express my pain, anxiety and extreme sadness I took home with me on a daily basis.
I think many times people shy away from writing poetry because they fear what they write will not compare to that of other poets. Instead, I encourage people of all ages to write for the benefit of self-healing, and the healing of others. I believe it is especially important during these times of uncertainty that people share their fears, pain, and struggles, to engage in the interconnectedness of the human spirit. The artist’s and I hope this book will open dialogue and people will begin to internalize that an individual’s efforts, no matter how small or large, do make a difference. The goodness of the human spirit will prevail with the faith that change is possible.
“In this beautifully illustrated book, “Restless Spirit – The Eyes of a Child,” Joel Harper opens doors. He opens the door of his heart–a sensitive, childlike heart so wounded by the world. And he opens a door for those in search of a way to express their feelings.
In the introduction, Joel tells of his work with abused and abandoned children and how writing poetry was a way to “express the pain, anxiety and extreme sadness I took home with me on a daily basis.”
China has a tradition of poetry writing by people from all walks of life, from public officials to heartbroken lovers. Yet many of us in this country are reluctant to write poetry, seeing it as an academic exercise, Joel believes, “because they fear what they write will not compare to that of other poets.”
Thankfully, Joel is not an academic poet and will not intimidate the casual reader. His book is like a conversation with a close friend. It’s the perfect book for a young person, to be read as an example of how to express feelings and observations. Joel brings poetry down from Mount Everest to the streets and cities where we live, writing poems that range from a suburban coyote to an absent father.
This is not poetry written as an end to itself. It is the poetry of caring and sharing, an invitation, the opening of a door.”
– Russ Allison Loar
“Joel is a powerful writer and author of children’s books. His ensembles of poetry, book writing, and music all dive into the creating heart and soul of humanity.”
– James Devery