Indelible tells a story in verse of the dealer in purple cloth called ‘Lydia’ by the writer of Acts 16. According to this brief account, the woman is so moved by Paul’s preaching that she agrees to be baptized on the spot. Indelible consists of her letters between 49 and 64 CE alongside her conversations with visitors to present-day Philippi. The narrative traces her initial excitement with Paul’s teachings, then her increasing doubt. The central conceit of the book is that twenty centuries after Christianity has spread the globe the Lydian woman is still struggling to come to terms not only with Paul’s message but also with subsequent attempts by the Church to silence women.
“‘Unless I tell you you will never know never even know my name.’ This riveting declaration comes in the final line of the opening of Indelible. Becky Gould Gibson’s ensuing collection is apocryphal, retelling the story of Lydia of Thyatira—regarded as the first convert to Christianity and by many as a saint. In Gibson’s able hands, ‘Lydia’ takes her place . . . as an apostle and simply as a woman with a story previously unheard. Borrowing from feminist interpretation of Christian text, Gibson’s sequence of dramatic monologues answers the opening poem’s challenge. Through Indelible‘s finely wrought poems, the ‘Lydian woman’ is given not only a name but a history, a voice, and flesh.”
—Shara McCallum, author of Madwoman
“To tell this story in verse, Becky Gould Gibson dons masks . . . to give an . . . exceptional woman in history her due, along with the ‘named and unnamed sisters/ tossed on the bone heap’ of the Bible . . . ‘Lydia,’ a seller of luxury purple cloth, speaks with Ms. Magazine and Christianity Today, aches for companionship, cross-examines herself and reveals fiery relationships with Paul, her mom, her buyer, her supplier, The Dead Saint and her own faith. Even the voice of a Road-Stone chimes in to support her. “Who has the best story?” she demands. With impishness, heart, respect and scholarship, Indelible makes her voice heard.
—JoAnn Balingit, author of Words for House Story and Poet Laureate of Delaware, 2008-20015
“So, What’s your Story?” (podcast). Interview with Stephanie Fowler and Tony Russo of WSDL 90,7. Recorded at the Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Delaware, December 8, 2018.