Soul Survivor:My Interview with Poet and Author Sherry Lee Knight.
Introduction: What makes a great writer?
A long time ago, a pair of twin sisters lived in a small, poverty-stricken village. Their names were Nature and Tragedy. These sisters grew up, and married a pair of brothers. The sisters became pregnant, and both delivered sons, on the same day, at the same hour. Nature named her son Good, and Tragedy named her son Great. Can you guess what these sons grew up to be? Writers. The moral is that Nature can make a good writer, but tragedy can make a great writer.
No one knows that better than Sherry Knight, a woman who has not allowed sorrow and tragedy to destroy her, but instead pours her experiences out in her writing; to both glorify the Savior that brought her through all of it, and to encourage others.
What do you feel is most important for your readers to know about you?
“I guess through all of my trials and tribulations, that God has never forsaken me, or left me. I’ve been through so much, you know, and there’s….and if I didn’t have Christ, I probably would have been another statistic on the suicide chart.”
How long have you been saved?
“Since I’ve been six. But I backslid, as ninety percent of us do. And a lot of us don’t realize that repentance means we’re supposed to turn, and stop. Sometimes that lesson is long and hard, and we get chastened. And we realize that the bible is there for us, for guidance and understanding put there because He loves us; He doesn’t want to see us go the wrong direction. There is joy and comfort in that. Because we don’t see it that way in the beginning; we want to rebel, and rebellion is a sin. It’s really not a good life.
When did you start writing?
In my early twenties. I would keep a journal to try to get through my depression. I suffered for many years with major depression, anxiety disorders, amongst others. Through writing, it would help me reflect about what was going on. When I started the poetry it was just off my head. I entered a poetry contest and I was surprised that I could write a poem within a few minutes.
What inspires your poetry?
The Holy Spirit puts it on me; mostly in the middle of the night. When I go to pray, I will literally pray until I fall asleep. And I pray all day long; when I go to the bathroom, I pray; when I’m riding down the street in my chair, I’m talking to God. So I try to pray all the time. So when I start praying, I may wake up in the middle of the night with a hot flash or something; it will be on my heart, someone will come in my mind and I’ll start praying again, and then I’ll pray some more. As it was told to me one time from one Pastor that they are called intercessory prayers. You just keep praying, and praying, and praying. Which is awesome, you know? Then you start to see it all come to work. To see Him working and you know you don’t do anything without Him.
Describe your writing, in your own words.
My writing is about my life, and how He used me in my life. The lessons I’ve learned, and sometimes they are cries, for His help, to help me get through things. Sometimes it’s really hard to get through things. We’re promised joy, but nothing says we won’t have trials, just like everybody else has trials. Some people think they become saved and they’re going to be free from the burdens of this world, and that’s not true. Sometimes we have even more because the devil wants to attack us even harder because we are saved. Sometimes we have to reach out, and sometimes the only friend we have is Jesus. When I wrote my book, I was three-thousand miles from my family and from my son, sometimes. My marriage was with somebody I wasn’t equally yoked with. I shouldn’t have gotten married to somebody I was unequally yoked with, but I thought he was saved. Sometimes they deceive you, or you’re deceived. Or you think, ‘well, they said they were saved once, but they are just not walking the word, it’s going to be okay, you don’t realize that sometimes we don’t read things right, or don’t want to read things right, don’t want to understand it; we want to believe what we want to believe instead of what the word actually says. I’m guilty. I know that no way am I going to get involved with another man unless I’m sure he is sent from God for me. He is going to have to love the church like he loves Christ, and like Christ loves us. I’m going to have to see that, not just hear it.
Do you see any of your trials, and what you have learned, as a blessing?
I see it all as a blessing; who knows if I would have had my son turn out the way he is. To me, my life is a reflection of how my son turned out. My son is an awesome man with a tremendous faith in the Lord, a beautiful wife, and she also has a great faith in the Lord. He is going to be a great instrument for the Lord; he is out there all the time witnessing and evangelizing. I don’t know if I hadn’t gone the way I went whether he would have gone the way he went. I knew because of my mistakes to show him differently and to tell him differently. He’s my fruit! I know we are not supposed to be proud, but I am proud of my son. You see all the kids, and what they can get into now-a-days, they’re on drugs, and suicides, and the fornicating, having children out of wedlock; that could have been my child. If my life had gone any other way…! It’s so important that my son be in Heaven with me.
How did you get published?
I’m just a vanity publisher.
What does that mean?
It means I started out on Lulu, and published it myself online. Then I had a couple people look at and edit it and then I put it on Amazon, myself. There are many people that do it.
Do they assign an ISBN number?
How excited were you when you first saw it in print?
I was very excited! And I wished my mother had been alive, because my mother wanted to be a writer. I had ADHD and dyslexia; I couldn’t even read when I graduated high school. When I went to college the first time, I couldn’t do the tests, because I couldn’t read them, so I had a teacher teach me how; to read one word at a time, and then move the paper to two words, and then to three words. It took me a few years to learn to read, and then I went back to college afterwards. And so it’s really remarkable that I can read in the first place; because not a lot of people learn to read when they are an adult, when they can’t read. And then, I went back and got a 3.24, out of a 4.0. And now I actually write; if my mother could see me write, she would be amazed because we tried speed reading, we tried tutors, we tried everything growing up, and you could not get me to read.
And look at where you are now! How many degrees do you have?
I have two degrees: I was working on my third, but now I am going into getting my bachelors.
I was scared; I wasn’t a very good reader, but now I am doing pretty good at the writing, without using too many editors. That’s because of Tim! Tim did an awesome job in helping me with my grammar. I find that I write poetry a lot better than I write the other stuff, but I’m working on an autobiography.
Do you have a name for it yet?
He Never Forsakes Nor Abandons Us. That’s another verse in the bible. Because I kept running, and I got involved in drinking, and I got involved with the men. He sent an angel to grab ahold of me, and pick me back up.
Talk about that.
I’d gotten involved in drinking, and I was trying to quit, the secular way. I would go to church, but I didn’t want them to know. I was too embarrassed for my church family to see that I had been drinking, so I tried the secular way, and it never seemed to work. I would go two years, and then I would go out again. It always ended up with a lot of drinking. The drinking always ended up with a lot of fornicating. Then I would try to straighten up and repent and try to walk again, and then I started getting involved with a woman who was saying she was a Wiccan, and I started with the tarot cards, palm reading, and I had my eighth miscarriage. I was drinking three glasses of wine; I had seizures, so I was on epilepsy medicine. I was on antidepressants, and I had hypoglycemia.
One day I had the three glasses of wine, I was hanging over the toilet throwing up, I looked at this girl [an aide], and my eyes started rolling back in my head. I said, “Call an ambulance,” I always told them that if my blood sugar ever got really low, I’d let you know. She called, and the guy came right in, and he said, “it’s hypoglycemia” and she said yes. He gave me an IV and I ripped it out. I was almost unconscious, and every time I got that way, I just wanted to go be with Jesus. He put the IV back in me. When I got to the hospital, the sugar water had taken effect and brought my sugar back up. Later I woke up, and the doctor told me it was alcohol; but I was lucid, and I wasn’t drunk at all. I told him it was hypoglycemia, and he said no, it was alcohol. I said no, it was me, it was my life, and it was low blood sugar. The paramedic was walking behind him shaking his head no, meaning that he knew it was low blood sugar too. I was almost dead from low blood sugar. They released me. He said it was alcohol. It wasn’t.
I got home, and this man showed up at the door. He had brown hair, and the prettiest blue eyes. He had a bible in his hand, and I opened up the door. I let him in. He knew my name, and he started answering my questions. I wanted to know why people believe in God, but they don’t believe in Jesus. How come they go to hell? They seem like godly people. So he explained about the Way, the Truth, and the Life; if they hear about Christ and they deny Him, then they deny the Holy Spirit. They turn their back on God. Then I talked to him about Adam and Eve, and how I got kicked out of a church one time, because I asked where Cain’s wife came from. I said, “Because it doesn’t say in the bible, where she comes from.” And he said that Adam and Eve had been on the earth for a long period of time, and there was a lot of other children they had, it was one of his descendants. And I said, “Wouldn’t that be incest?” And he said, “Not in the beginning, it wasn’t considered incest, because it was in the very beginning.” And so he had answered some of these questions. Then I had the oldest question in the world: “Why does bad things happen to good people?” Basically, that is life, and things happen to people, and we don’t have these answers until we get to see God. Their purpose is already done, whatever their purpose is. When he left, he said he would see me again someday. He said in order for me to have a baby, I had to do it right. I had to give up all of the things I was doing, and repent. And mean it! I tried to burn the tarot cards, and they were jumping back at me, while they were on fire. So I wrapped them up in some type of ribbon and I buried them. And then I started reading my bible. There was no church around that I knew of.
Then I met my first husband, which of course I fornicated with him, not for long because after a week he went to California to get his stuff and he was there for three months and we talked on the phone. Then when he came back we got married, shortly after. And then I had a baby and I went on bed rest and I prayed all the way through it; I kept going into preterm labor, it was really rough but I had my child, and I have not been able to have another child. He’s my blessing and I was told if I did it right…and I got back with God, and I surrendered everything, and I told God I needed His help—I needed to quit drinking, I needed to quit cussing. I didn’t quit cussing until last year, but I quit smoking in ’96, I quit drinking that year. It’s been a long journey. Three rapes before that; that’s what made me turn to drinking. The first rape I was a little girl at six, then the second rape I was eighteen but I was drinking, and if I hadn’t been in the situation with the people I was with, I wouldn’t have been raped. Sometimes when you are that age, sometimes it is hard to see it that way. It was my choice (the drinking that is, not the rape; no woman ever deserves that).
I was working at this place, and I was going out with a guy, and the guy got me drunk. I told him I wanted to keep my cherry and he messed me around and took it anyway. And all of a sudden, that is what happens, that’s what guys do. It became my theory—every time I drank. Men aren’t like that, but that is what my concept became. And then, [I thought] I’m so dirty God don’t want to look at me anymore. I knew better, I was saved, I knew better! But you get the Devil sitting there telling you that and if you don’t have anyone telling you; ‘Sherry, that’s not what’s going on’ because you are not talking to anybody about it. Not to the right people about it. You’re talking to the secular world, and going to secular counseling; I’m not getting the right answers.
I didn’t even know that was an angel until a couple of years later when I talked to a woman from church. I closed the door, and I went to ask him something I had forgotten. I opened the door and he was gone. The rest of the day I kept looking for him, like he went to someone else’s house, but he was just gone.
I wrote one of my poems about it. One of the poems in the book is about the angel. I have been sending [Take Everything To Christ In Prayer] to the missions, and homeless shelters, and homes for battered women. I was in another bad marriage. I swore I wasn’t going to get another divorce, I was going to make it through it, and I was going to be a good wife. He was bipolar and schizophrenic, a hobo, alcoholic; Most of the time he wasn’t drinking, he wasn’t physically abusive, but he was mentally and emotionally abusive. So was my first one. I was going to do my best to be the good Christian wife. My son was not with me; my first husband had taken away from me because he had all the money, and I was sick, and he felt he should raise him. He lied and manipulated and got our son to say he wanted to live with him. I did wonder why God would do something like that, but you are not supposed to question God.
“But now my son is living for Jesus. There’s his wedding pictures.”
Do they have any grandbabies on the way yet?
Not yet—praying for them! He was going to go for nursing, but Pastor Tony told him that he was selling himself short, and that he had a higher calling. He thought maybe he should be a doctor. Then we were thinking maybe when he gets it all done, that he could become a missionary for Potter’s Field, or Voice of the Martyr’s.
What are those about?
The Potter’s Field is this man who goes around with his wife and they make pottery, and they tell the story of the potter and the clay. They sponsor children. For my twenty dollars a month, this is the little girl I sponsor, she’s in Uganda. They have missionary places where they have food, and medicine, and Christian schools. You can Google pottersfield.org, and it will tell you all about the organization. The Potter’s Field has one in South America, and it is on Jake’s heart to learn Spanish. Maybe he and his wife are supposed to go down there. His wife is thinking about going into nursing. She is very bright too, and she has a beautiful voice. She was studying for the arts, and she felt God wanted her to come back and marry Jake.
Sherry is still writing poetry, and she is currently working on her master’s degree at Empire State College in Canandaigua.