Why Poetry Writing is a Spiritual Practice

I call this poetry practice. I have likened the daily flexing of the poetry muscle to the etudes Miss Mildred, my childhood piano teacher, gave me. I was a poor piano scholar, but I have doggedly stuck to the daily practice of poetry now for nearly ten months. I know I will keep the posting for the full 365 days. But apart from becoming a more limber wordsmith, the daily poetry practice also has a spiritual element.

I have rarely kept up a meditation practice. I have tried prayer books and pulling a wisdom or oracle card. But I usually fall away from the routine in fairly short order. Being in semi-retirement helps. Having a flexible work routine and a fixed monthly income can accommodate a morning writing practice. But when I worked a normal job I never set the alarm early to make sure that I write something every morning. I did the three month “Artist’s Way” over twenty years ago, but after that initial period the morning pages routine was very off and on. (Mostly I complained about how my sinuses hurt first thing in the morning. Which is kind of boring.) I began this practice with a howl of outrage and in a pit of sorrow over current events. Those circumstances have not stopped happening. And I still keep feeling the feelings. But I have not been cast off-centre while it has been going down. And that, I think, is because of the daily practice of writing a poem – good, bad or indifferant.

Having the self-imposed discipline of posting the Poetry Daily has ensured that I keep at it. But I am beginning to wonder whether I might keep it up anyway because it is now set in my neural pathways. Perhaps after September 15th I can take down that guardrail and just post a weekly poem or compendium of weekly poems.

I am still entranced by quotations. Please indulge me. I am ferreting around to see what are the limitations and strengths of the form. As I am considering the spiritual value of the Poetry Daily as my practice, the Samuel Beckett quotation comes back to me. It is a favourite. Probably I should have a plaque made of it and hang it on a wall!

all poetry is prayer

And so today’s Poetry Daily is

All poetry is...prayer.
Time and trends change its rhythms and riffs.
Say it to a god or to yourself, it anchors.
We can be both defendant and plaintiff
petitioning for some kind of clemency.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
poetry is prayer

Poetry is…

There is a long tradition of Ars Poetrica contemplationson the art of poetry. I have been cogitating about this in a kind of brew and stew sort of way a lot recently. Partly, it is because I have been asked to write an article about sacred poetry. The other part is that I am preparing several workshops, including one dedicated to poetry writing next Sunday. What is the common denominator beyond form and content? For me, poetry is connection. I went to sleep with this sputtering in my subconscious and the first verse of today’s poem was beginning to be formed as I was waking.

It’s a drowning world here in my part of Ireland, weather-wise, today. I suspect a lot of St. Patrick’s Day parade floats might literally…float! It’s a good day to hunker down with pen, paper and keyboard. As Felicia Olusanyo (aka Felispeaks) said in the Irish Times this week:

Considering this country is, by its seams, held together by poetry? Poetry and music are the cornerstones of Ireland, I wish we took them more seriously.”

Irish Times, Wednesday, 13 March 2018

So, here I am doing my poetry practice, sewing frayed seams. on the national holiday weekend.

Ars Poetica

Poetry is
a venn diagram
between kissing
your spouse goodbye
hard on the mouth;
painting the finger
of God on the
Sistine ceiling.

Poetry is
the ovum between
the touch of the brush,
snake's tongue licking
eggshell open;
La Gioconda's
enigmatic smile,
her wily gaze's
to be awake.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured Photo by Humberto Arellano on Unsplash

It’s slightly ironic that I chose this featured photo as I got lacerated this morning trying to intervene between two feline boys who are not taking being shut up indoors well. The little black she cat is the only one with any respect for me today.