Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born.” In this weeklong celebration of poetry, we immerse ourselves in the mysteries of poetic form with five nationally acclaimed poets.
Throughout the week, Alison Luterman acts as our guide. With her, we explore writing through the stages of neuro-spiritual evolution—from the reptile brain (survival, sex, instinct) and the mammalian brain (feelings, relationships) to the forebrain (transpersonal, transcendent), allowing us—and our poetry—to open up and fly. Great poems are often born in the muck of personal experience and bloom into a universal consciousness—but there is no set course. Each day, a guest poet illuminates a point on the arc with generative writing experiences and provocative conversations on craft.
We begin in bewilderment. Nick Flynn guides us in writing poems that inhabit a continually shifting sense of selfhood within the mercurial nature of emotional energy—from grief or panic to gratitude and understanding. We wrestle, stumble, and stutter for some time in the shadow-world and learn it is vital to art-making.
Guided by Aja Monet’s indomitable spirit, we delve deeper into the images that spring from the shadow-world and “surrender to the metaphor.” Our true poetic voice emerges as we coax images into consciousness through the ineffable mixture of silence, music, syntax, and the breath of essential words.
The most fundamental utterance of a poem is that of prayer. With Marie Howe we pay attention to our own intimate discourse with the divine—and our writing becomes a gateway to faith. It is through our poem-making that we shape our cry of longing; as we sing our poem into space we begin to find our place in the cosmos.
Li-Young Lee takes us into the language of the forbidden as we explore the similarities and differences between the spiritual and the erotic—true eros being the life force that imbues everyone and everything on the planet—and write our own erotic poems, held within the energy of love from which eros erupts.