THOUGH a Christian, Sam Lees admits quite openly that much of his poetry is designed to “ruffle the feathers” of those who share his belief in God.

“My poetry will cause people to stop and think and question some of their tendencies – if I keep getting positive reviews, then I haven’t been forceful enough in what I’ve said,” he explained.

Mr Lees, now 31, is not one to preach to the converted.

His roots are in Colchester, having grown up in Greenstead in the 90s and 00s when his life was far from straightforward.

But Mr Lees’ eventual conversion to Christianity – and subsequent publishing of his first poetry volume, Poems Amidst the Piety – have not been borne out of what many would consider to be a typical religious journey.

Even now, Mr Lees has plenty of reservations about his religion and what it stands for, even if his road out of drug addiction came after his mother prayed for him to be freed from a habitual pattern of substance abuse.

“I got involved in religion reluctantly,” he said.

“There did come a time when I started believing in a higher power, but I still had overarching addictions.

“My mum prayed for me and I woke up the next morning free from addictions.”

Then comes the curve ball.

“But I didn't agree with the church,” he said. 

It is this disconnect which serves as the source of Mr Lees’ creative output.

Mr Lees may see himself as a man of god, but when it comes the exclusion of LGBT communities from the church, or the reluctance to ordain female priests, Mr Lees, in his own words, is prepared to “do a couple of rounds” with those who hold fast to some of Christianity’s more traditional tenets.

He said: “When people were talking about the same sex marriage debate, I felt there were people spreading so much hate.

“I’m not good at keeping quiet, so I started voicing some opposition to that.

“Even though we try and paint Christianity as peaceful and inclusive, priests are allowed to denounce female ministers – that’s just ridiculous really.

“The thing was, I saw the worst of people and they were trying to use God as an excuse for it – being fresh out of my theology degree it was time do a couple of rounds with these people.”

During lent, Mr Lees – himself a former rapper – took up writing one poem each day as a sort of challenge to himself, but it soon grew into something much bigger in the way he articulates his ideas to himself and others.

He said: “I’ve had a lot of people nagging at me to start writing music and poetry again – it started at the beginning of lent and I thought I would write a poem per day.

"The inspiration just kept coming.

“Maybe poetry is a way I can express these issues without feeling like I’m attacking people – it’s a lighter medium and you can express yourself differently.

“It felt like it was going to be a personal poem for me once per day but it turned into something a bit bigger.”

The early responses have been positive, but that is not the kind of feedback Mr Lees always wants to hear – the official book launch in June of Poems Amidst Piety may well change that.

“So far, the reception has been really good but the responses I’ve had have been from people with a very similar theology to me," he said. 

“The launch at St Andrew’s Church on Saturday, June 3 might see a bit more of a mixed reaction – it’s been written to ruffle feathers.”

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