Poetry as a Spiritual Practice

I’ve been using poetry as a means for figuring things out — what I’m thinking, why I’m feeling what I’m feeling, how to talk to people — for a long time. Early on, I realized that this would be a tool for nurturing my well-being, as important as the pots and pans in my kitchen are for keeping me well-fed. Later, I began to see poetry as a practice in the spiritual sense, a discipline that I could use for deepening both my understanding and appreciation of… well, everything — from the Rig Veda to the dried fig melting in my mouth, from black holes to Sanskrit calligraphy. I think many poets have this kind of understanding, but not so many have consciously committed to the development of their writing as part of their personal development — the way an overweight person takes up an exercise routine. In the same way that I have kept up a sitting mediation practice for more than forty years, I have built writing into the routine of my life, and I use it in a way that is similar to meditation and prayer. They all serve to bring me closer to understanding my particular place in the universe (which must include a better understanding of the universe as a whole). As I turn 65, I look ahead to the last phase of my life, and I want to consolidate some of my searches, both in order to read them better and to be able to share some of their best insights with others. So I’m looking to do more poetry, both on my own and in classes like this. I expect to learn as much as I teach. 

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