In Praise of Communion: Poetry as a Healing of what Divides Our Heart

With Mark S. Burrows, Ph.D.

Saturday, April 24, 2021, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. US/EDT
$35 per person

A virtual program in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of National Poetry Month, the world’s largest literary celebration

If poetry has been aptly described and experienced as a means of restoring what is broken within us and between us, seldom has such a healing been as longed for and needed as it is in our day. How might we find in poems a means of knitting together—or what Julian of Norwich called “one-ing”— the divisions in our heart, individually and collectively? How might poems help us find the generative wisdom that often lies hidden in the silences? In living into that longing, we will heed the question that the poet Naomi Shihab Nye poses:

“Answer, if you hear the words under the words—
otherwise it is just a world with a lot of rough edges,
difficult to get through, and our pockets full of stones.”

This will be a time when we seek to receive those words together, in and beyond the “rough edges” that make it “difficult to get through.” We will attend to poems that remind us, as Langston Hughes once put it, that “Freedom/ Is a strong seed/ Planted/ In a great need.” With the help of such poets as Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver, Kei Miller and W.S Merwin, alongside several of my own poems, we will discover how poetry weaves together some of the unraveled strands in our inner life, and those that make up our common life. None of this, alone, will overcome the deep divisions we face in our hearts and within our society. But our journey together might help us find a needed orientation, a direction by which we might live into a greater “communion”—within our own heart and with others who share this fragile and imperiled world with us. The morning’s rhythm will include time for small-group conversation as well as a final plenary discussion.

Click here for a short video program overview from Mark.

Mark S. Burrows is a poet, teacher, translator, and scholar, much in demand as a retreat leader and speaker in the US and internationally. His retreat work draws, particularly, on mystics and visionaries, medieval and modern, including Julian of Norwich and Meister Eckhart, Simone Weil and Etty Hillesum, among others. A leading translator and interpreter of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry, he has published widely in matters related to spirituality, poetry, and the arts. A recent collection of his poems, The Chance of Home, appeared in 2018, and together with Jon M. Sweeney he has published two books of meditative poems inspired by the medieval mystic, Meister Eckhart: Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart (2017) and Meister Eckhart’s Book of Secrets (2019). Other recent publications include English translations of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book of Hours (Part I), published as Prayers of a Young Poet (2016), and 99 Psalms by the contemporary Iranian-German poet SAID. He is the recent recipient of the Witter Bynner Prize in Poetry, an elected member of the American Theological Society, and, since 1998, an oblate of Glastonbury Abbey in Hingham, MA.

The presentation components of this program will be recorded and will be sent to registered participants soon after the program takes place. To preserve one’s privacy and confidentiality, we will not record participants’ personal sharings.

The program commemorates the 25th Anniversary of National Poetry Month, the world’s largest literary celebration, which was started by the Academy of American Poets

Sessions:  1
Date:  4/24/2021
Meeting Time:  Saturday 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Instructor:  Dr. Mark S. Burrows
$35.00   (Class Fee)
Note: Online registration has ended