Poetry as Spiritual Practice

I have been known to say that poetry is my religion.  By this I mean that through the writing and reading of poetry, I feel connected to the creative force that dwells within all of us.  What that is, I think, is quite individual – each of us experiences God, spirit, or what we consider divine wisdom, in a different way.

I’m pretty sure there is a poem in this photo, though I have yet to write it.

As I mature and my spirituality deepens, I find that poetry and writing still bring me that feeling of connectedness, but only to one facet of the spiritual experience.  Poetry gives a voice to emotions.  It is a way to be with feelings, images, experiences.  There is no need, in poetry, to extrapolate or draw conclusions (though many try to do just that – not a useful approach to poetry in my opinion, either for the reader or the writer).

When I write a poem, it is usually about an emotionally charged subject.  If I am working with an image – a leaf, or a rusty truck, or an open door – it represents something much more than the simple, everyday object I’m describing.  That mundane and familiar thing is a stepping-off point, an opportunity to go deeper.  In writing poetry, I’m not wallowing in my emotions or being hysterical; rather, I’m settling in and examining.  I’m seeing something clearly, both for what it is and what it represents.

Spiritual practice as a discipline is much broader: it is holistic; it is looking forward, integrating, improving, and being.  Poetry is simply the truth, the being.  The seeing what is, and trying to find the right language to say it.  That is all.

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