"[When we read and write poetry,] it is as if a long-settled cloud in our mind suddenly dissipates, and we are divine once again." -- from the Introduction
Poetry is the language of devotion in prayer, chant, and song. Reading and writing poetry creates clarity, deepens and expands spiritual inquiry, and cultivates wisdom, compassion, self-confidence, patience, and love. In author Robert McDowell's words, poetry makes you into a tuning fork of the Divine.
But poetry has disappeared over the centuries from religious ceremonies, academic curricula, and public discourse. In Poetry as Spiritual Practice, the first inspirational and instructional guide to combine poetry and spirituality, McDowell restores poetry as the natural language of spiritual practice and invites you to recognize poetry as "the pure sound and shape of your spirit."
Vividly illustrated with a wide range of poems from all historical eras and poetic traditions, numerous religions and faiths, and McDowell's own and his students' work, Poetry as Spiritual Practice will reintroduce you to the unique pleasure of verse. And meditations throughout will allow you to integrate reading and writing poetry into your spiritual journeys and daily life.
Since many of us have long forgotten, or never learned, the mechanics and terminology of poetry -- trochaic feet and tropes trip us up; we can't tell a villanelle from its shorter cousin, rondeau; and a terza rima may as well be a tanka -- this is also an instructional handbook on reading and writing poetry. An engaging guide through the landscape of world poetry, McDowell argues along the way for the many practical benefits of poetic literacy.
Making poetry an essential part of daily rituals, aspirations, and intentions will put you on the path to greater meaning, growth, and peace in your life. At once an engaging technical primer, a profound meditation on the relationship between poetry and the Divine, and an inspirational guide for integrating poetry into spiritual practice, Poetry as Spiritual Practice will become a cherished companion.
"Reading this lovely guide awakens in you a deeper appreciation for poetry and messages of the Spirit. It communicates a poet's soul -- and helps you articulate that deep place of truth for yourself." -- Caroline Myss, author of Entering the Castle and Anatomy of the Spirit
"In the way that Rumi allowed us to touch the heart of our soul, Robert McDowell -- with a lyrical grace -- shows you how to easily create poetry that can propel your spiritual journey beyond normal reality into cherished mystic realms." -- Denise Linn, author of Sacred Space and The Secret Language of Signs
"At the same time that Robert McDowell is teaching us to approach the reading and writing of poems as acts of prayer in his brilliantly insightful book, Poetry as Spiritual Practice, he is quietly doing another astonishing thing: creating community. McDowell's exercises at the end of each chapter liberate poetry from a solitary contemplative practice to a collective celebration of the sacred. I will share this book with everyone I love." -- Mirabai Starr, author of new translations of Dark Night of the Soul by John of the Cross and The Interior Castle and The Book of My Life by Teresa of Ávila
"Poetry exposes me to a different way of experiencing the world. When I read Poetry as Spiritual Practice I instantly translated the poems into pictures. I can see fields of grain or rain in Autumn. It is fascinating to see all the patterns and rhymes that can be woven into language. I always enjoy learning about the different ways that other people think of and experience the world." -- Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures
"[McDowell firmly believes that anyone can write poetry....an] inspiring and quite lovely book." -- Booklist