Kenn Allan is no stranger to FaithWriters, the Writing Challenge, OR Best of the Best. In fact, he held the crown eight years ago (see his first Best of the Best interview here). Join Joanne Sher as she gets an update on his life, his reaction to his 3rd place win, and a bit on what inspires him.

JOANNE: First of all, Kenn, congratulations! Can you tell me what your reaction was when you learned one of your entries placed 3rd in Best of the Best this year?

KENN: Hiya, Joanne. I suppose my reaction is best described as “pleasantly surprised.” I had completely forgotten about my eligible challenge entries until receiving the notification. I suspect I might have squealed a bit but I’m not sure.

JOANNE: Your winning entry, Nature Speaks, is a beautiful piece on how nature declares God’s attributes. What was your inspiration for this piece? Do you recall how it came together?

KENN: I’ve always been in awe of God’s creation; it’s easy to catch a glimpse of Eden if you look hard enough. Nature Speaks was an expression of Psalms 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament sheweth His handiwork.” Although pleased with the finished work, the rigid nature of the left margin glitched me; after all, the poem spoke of God’s creative nature and He rarely uses straight lines. So, anyway, that’s why the left margin is curved.

JOANNE: You aren’t a stranger to FaithWriters’ Best of the Best. In fact, you were the second person to have the crown – back in 2006, for your masterful The Heart of Lucinda Druell. (By the way, I feel like I am interviewing “FaithWriters Royalty”) What would you say is the most significant change in your writing, or anything else mentioned in that interview, in the past eight years?

KENN: Has it really been eight years? Wow. I believe 2006 was the year I began taking my poems seriously. Until entering the Faithwriters Challenge, I’d always considered my ability to write verse a “knack” of little value; however, the encouragement I received on Faithwriters forced me to reevaluate my gift. For the first time in my life I had the confidence to submit my work to contests and publications in both Christian and secular markets. Although I still don’t consider myself a true poet, I delight in the fact readers actually enjoy my writings.

JOANNE: If you aren’t a poet, Kenn, I’m not sure who is :) You’ve been at FaithWriters for almost a decade now, and though you haven’t always entered the challenge regularly, your presence is all over it. What is it about the Challenge that keeps you coming back? How has it helped you improve your craft and grow as a writer?

KENN: What keeps me coming back? That’s easy – the opportunity to share. No writer is complete without readers and, quite frankly, trying to convince the average person to read a poem is like offering to pull their teeth. Most editors are even less approachable. The FW Challenge allows me to share with a receptive audience who will (hopefully) enjoy my work. It also encourages me to experiment with new patterns and rhyme schemes to keep my poems from becoming too “expected.”

JOANNE: Is there one particular challenge entry that you’d call your favorite? One that perhaps flowed effortlessly or means a lot to you personally?

 

KENN: That’s a tough question. I suppose the one that continues to haunt me is The Forgotten due to its sobering message for believers and unbelievers alike. It still chills me a little.

JOANNE: You’re not alone in that one. Amazing work. Tell us a bit about your family. Are they supportive of your writing?

KENN: Our household has changed quite a bit since 2006. Back then, Susie and I were caring for my elderly parents in our home. My father passed first, and shortly before my mother followed our youngest daughter moved in with her three children, two with autism and one with ADHD. Last year, our oldest daughter encountered some setbacks in her life and was forced to join us. As you can imagine, things are pretty active around here. However, busy as she is, Susie continues to edit all my work and both our daughters are continually encouraging me to write something new. The grandchildren may be a little young to understand my writing now, but I’m making sure to save it for them to enjoy after I’ve gone to join the Lord.

JOANNE: What are your hopes and dreams for the future, both personally and professionally?

KENN: Unfortunately, health issues have made any long-term career planning impractical; therefore, I will simply continue writing my poems as long as possible and cast them like bread upon the waters in hopes the Lord can use them to further His kingdom. But if you think about it, what more rewarding future could I hope to achieve?

JOANNE: Precisely! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

KENN: Yes, I would like to share something very close to my heart. For the majority of my writing career, I pursued a path of my own choosing which was built upon a prideful ambition to be regarded as other Christian novelists I admired. Because of this, I missed (or ignored) obvious clues to what the Lord planned for my writing. Although I eventually figured it out, I deeply regret all the years spent in my vain pursuit instead of using my gift of rhyme to serve the Lord.

I would like to encourage everyone ― and not just writers ― to earnestly seek out and refine the natural talents bestowed upon each of us. It may not seem important. It may not further your own personal agenda. But it is only through the acceptance of these God-given gifts that true happiness can be achieved.

JOANNE: Amen to that – such wonderful advice to close. Thank you, Kenn, for sharing with us and I wish you God’s blessings in the future – and once again, congratulations!

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