“A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” 

Robert Frost

Come and travel with us in a pursuit of poetry! Our once-monthly group practice focuses on the mindful reading of verse, concentrating on sensory experience and spiritual connection. Instead of using analysis and explanation, we approach poems with a sense of curiosity and openness, a holistic approach to appreciating the beauty and wisdom of a poem.

Becky Echert-Lennstrom (see her bio below) curates content, attuned to language and ideas that are both delightful and compelling. Previous sessions have included poetry by Rita Dove, Joy Harjo, Billy Collins, Yusef Komunyakaa, and our current Washington State Poet Laureate, Rena Priest, among others. Our group practices usually include quiet time for contemplation, journaling/composing, and an assortment of media-sharing.

Links to poems and brief introductions to the various poets will be provided.
Please bring a notebook or journal for writing down impressions, sensory experiences, and connections.

Continuing Contemplation…

  • Place yourself in the setting of the poem.  What can you see, hear, taste, touch and smell?  What sensation stands out for you in the poem?
  • What is the pace of the poem?  Does it move quickly or slowly? Boldly or timidly?
  • What is the voice of the poem?  For example, is it relaxed, passionate? Humorous or sober?
  • What do you notice or appreciate about the poem?
  • What connections do you have to the poem?  What chord does the poem strike in you?  Memories or experiences that you’ve had?
  • How do you feel as you read the poem?  What is the mood of the poem – the “emotional weather” of the poem?
  • What dazzles you in the poem?  What line or image “lights up” for you?
  • How has the poem continued its effect on you since our mindful reading?

Additional Resources:

Mindful Reading of Poetry – Approaching a poem not by analysis but through the senses and feelings. Article from Spirituality & Practice.

Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish – a classic poem which defines the art of poetry or the meditation of poetry. This is a definitive “instruction book” on what a poem is, which is “to be.”

Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings by Juan Felipe Herrera – Another type of “ars poetica” poem by 2015 Poet Laureate for the U.S.Poetry Podcasts – The Poetry Magazine Podcast features poets and artists in their natural form—reading poems and speaking freely. Poem-a-day! – A new poem each day from Poets.org, because it’s not possible to read too much poetry.

Why Poetry is So Crucial Right Now – Recent NYTimes Opinion by Tish Harrison Warren (@Tish_H_Warren,) a priest in the Anglican Church in North America and author of “Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep.”

Our Curator and Guide:

Poetry has been a life-long passion and solace for Rebecca Echert-Lennstrom. The beauty and playfulness of verse captured her heart early and became a well-spring of reflection and inspiration. For the last 25 years, she’s been sharing that love with high school students as an English teacher and creative writing instructor, steeped in words and imagery. She’s coached students in the National Poetry Out Loud Competition for ten years, paired with professional poets in the classroom to inspire student writing, and published high school creative writing magazines. This is her second year curating the Mindful Poetry Series as a ministry of the Episcopal Church.

Upcoming and Post-event Notes:

Learn more about all our group practices at our Contemplative Practices page.

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