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Read about a recent review of my book Hyaena Season in Image Journal’s Good Letters blog by author, anthologist and long-time Image contributor, Peggy Rosenthal.


I recently posted my video about Poetry as Prayer, from the Logos Project, as well as the full article, and watch here for my upcoming Poetry as Prayer retreats.


What a time we had! La Romita Poetry Writing Retreat in Italy – Summer 2017


A community of poets and painters, great food and creative expression! And lots of laughter! What a time we had! You can check out my Facebook page for pics and blog posts by Sheila, one of the retreatants! Another retreatant, Tonya, wrote this about her experience:

Being at La Romita, in the hills of olive groves, within the deep history of Umbria and the story of the once-Capuchin monastery itself, was enchanting. I’d worked briefly with Richard Osler once and knew he would bring big energy and a head and heart full of poetry. He did that and more. The more is in his uncanny ability to enable people to find their own poetry. He invites, supports and nourishes the opening of inner channels of communication with the people we’ve been missing in ourselves, who all have so much to say. Richard gives poetry and while we received it and worked hard to learn to hear it, we also had an incredibly good time.

Read all about it!


hyaena-season-coverMy new collection of poems, Hyaena Season, launched last Fall! More than ten readings in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, New Westminster, Victoria and Calgary. And sold lots of books!

The poems in Hyaena Season touch on the intimacies of a wide range of human experience from the killing grounds of Rwanda and DR Congo, to settings more familiar here in Canada.

Hope to do some more readings in the upcoming months! Here are details on past readings! Launches and readings during the past year. Thanks to all those who came out to hear me read!

You’ll find a complete list of my works here.


Here’s a short piece on what this site is all about.


If you’re wondering where my page of readings has gone, it’s just moved – from the home page to its own place inside the site. You can always reach it from the main menu under “Richard Reading”.

Difficult Gifts – Jane Hirschfield’s Shining White Bull

American Poet and Essayist Jane Hirschfield

Each Moment a White Bull Steps Shining into the World

If the gods bring to you
a strange and frightening creature,
accept the gift
as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers,
oil the hooves well,
caress the small ears with praise.

Have the new halter of woven silver
embedded with jewels.
Spare no expense, pay what is asked,
when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself
would be treated,
brought speechless and naked
into the court of a king.

And when the request finally comes,
do not hesitate even an instant—

Stroke the white throat,
the heavy, trembling dewlaps
you’ve come to believe were yours,
and plunge in the knife.

Not once
did you enter the pasture
without pause,
without yourself trembling.
That you came to love it, that was the gift.

Let the envious gods take back what they can.

Jane Hirschfield from Each Happiness Ringed by Lions – Selected Poems, Bloodaxe Books, 2005

The Canadian poet Heidi Garnett reminded me of this signature poem by American poet Jane Hirschfield a few days ago. Mentioned how it brings her to tears every time she reads it. I have bridled at the poem in some way over the years. That I would have to kill such a gift. But something Heidi said has changed my feelings toward this poem!

It is only in embracing our shadow selves that we can become whole, those aspects of ourselves we’ve rejected because they seemed so repugnant.   I’m thinking now of that beautiful poem by Hirschfield, the one that brings me to tears whenever I read it.  The gift is not the creature, but that we come to love him, to love ourselves.

Canadian Poet Heidi Garnett, contributor to Poem in Your Pocket and author of Blood Orange, Frontenac House, 2016. Photo: Frontenac House

Is it the killing of our shiny selves, our personas this poem is suggesting? I like that take on it! I know there are others as well. But so many things in my life I have had to let go. Parents, friends, former spouses. Can I not focus on the losses but instead the love I have felt for them.  The gift of that. And in that remembrance can I love myself and forgive myself for my role in the difficult moments during those relationships?!

Three Poetic Riffs on Courage – Part Three – Jan Zwicky

Canadian Poet Jan Zwicky. Photo Credit: National Post 2012

 

COURAGE

And now you know that it won’t turn out as it should
	  that what you did was not enough,
		    that ignorance, old evil, is enforced

and willed, and loved, that it
	  is used to manufacture madness, that it is the aphrodisiac
		    of power the crutch of lassitude, you

an ordinary heart, just functional, who knows
	  that no one’s chosen by the gods, the aspens
		    and the blue-eyed grass have voices of their own,

what will you do,
	  now that you sense the path unravelling
		    beneath you?

Sky unraveling, unraveling
	  the sea, the sea that still sees everywhere
		    and looks at every thing —

not long. What will you do,
	  you, heart, who know the gods don’t flee,
		    that they can only be denied.

Who guess their vengeance.

It has been a long hill, heart.
	  But now the view is good.
		    Or don’t you still believe

the one sin is refusal, and refusal to keep seeking
	  when refused?
		    Come, step closer to the edge, then.

You must look, heart. You must look.

Jan Zwicky (1955 - ) from The Long Walk, Oskana Poetry, University of Regina Press, 2016

What to make of this gut-wrenching poem by celebrated Canadian poet Jan Zwicky.  What a strong opening opening poem in her latest collection. Zwicky, long renowned not just as a poet, through her more than a dozen books of poetry, is also celebrated as a philosopher and especially through her book Lyric Philosophy, considered a classic in its field.

But last Spring it wasn’t philosophy or just any kind of poetry on my mind when I attended a week long writer’s retreat led by Zwicky focussed on poetry of witness, especially eco-poetry of witness. It was here I first heard Courage. I was listening to a woman, late twenties, early 30’s, who without warning began to recite from memory Jan Zwicky’s poem. This poet and ardent environmental activist, radiated a special excitement as she voiced the words of the poem.

Although I have read  Courage countless times since that first hearing, I read it still through the lens of the young woman as she read it, as already, her life made it real. A woman fighting huge institutional forces in her passion to save this one earth. Her knowing, so far, it has not turned out as it should. Yet this woman has not committed the sin of refusal. She keeps seeking and inspires others by her seeking.
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Three Poetic Riffs on Courage – Part Two – Jack Gilbert

Jack Gilbert. Photo Credit: The Poetry Foundation

The Abnormal Is Not Courage

The Poles rode out from Warsaw against the German
tanks on horses. Rode knowing, in sunlight, with sabers.
A magnitude of beauty that allows me no peace.
And yet this poem would lessen that day. Question
the bravery. Say it’s not courage. Call it passion.
Would say courage isn’t that. Not at its best.
It was impossible, and with form. They rode in sunlight.
Were mangled. But I say courage is not the abnormal.
Not the marvelous act. Not Macbeth with fine speeches.
The worthless can manage in public, or for the moment.
It is too near the whore’s heart; the bounty of impulse,
and the failure to sustain even small kindness.
Not the marvelous act, but evident conclusion of being.
Not strangeness, but a leap forward of the same quality.
Accomplishment. The even loyalty. But fresh.
Not the Prodigal Son, nor Faustus. But Penelope.
The thing steady and clear. Then the crescendo.
The real form. The culmination. And the exceeding.
Not the surprise. The amazed understanding. The marriage,
not the month’s rapture. Not the exception.
The beauty that is of many days. Steady and clear.
It is the normal excellence, of long accomplishment.

Jack Gilbert from Monolithos – Poems, 1962 and 1982, Alfred A. Knopf, 1982

If I feel somewhat delightfully disoriented inside Jane Mead’s two variations on courage ( See Part One of this series) I have no nuances or confusions to sort out in Gilbert’s riff on courage. While I sense that Mead’s poem is heading in the direction of Gilbert’s, his leaves little room for confusion. First published in his award winning collection Views of Jeopardy in 1962, this poem, which was one of the first of Gilbert’s poems I read at the beginning of my poetry education journey almost 15 years ago, is vintage Gilbert. Its declarations, its big abstractions woven together with startling images and literary references.
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Three Poetic Riffs on Courage – Part One – Jane Mead

American poet Jane Mead

World of Made and Unmade
from Section III

* * * 

How will you spend your courage,
her life asks my life

No courage spent of
bloodshot/gunshot/taproot/eye.

How will you spend
your courage, how

will you spend your life.

Bloodshot, gunshot, taproot, eye—
and the mind
on its slow push through the world—

* * *
World of Made and Unmade
from Section IV

* * *

How will you spend your courage,
her life asks my life.

No courage spent of
bloodshot/gunshot/taproot/eyeHow will you make your way?


Then, respond to the day
some other way than blind—

Jane Mead from WORLD of MADE and UNMADE – a poem, Alice James Books, 2016

My only exposure to the poetry of American poet Jane Mead before her 2016 book-length poem World of Made and Unmade was through her 1989 poem Concerning the Prayer I Cannot Make, a poem I feature in my poetry-as-prayer retreats. Mead, an experienced poetry teacher, now has five poetry collections under her belt and manages her family ranch in Northern California.

I am thrilled to have rediscovered Mead through her new book which was nominated for a National Book Award, one of the the holy grails of Literary book awards. the book is note worthy both for its production quality and the liberal use of white space but also because it is a gorgeous meditation/reflection on her mother and her mother’s dying.

For me the highlight of Mead’s new book is the enigmatic poems that introduce this blog post. Two variations. Like musical variations. Riffs on the extraordinary question Mead attributes to her mother, Nancy Morgan Whitaker. And the utterly musical incantations inside both poems. Incantations that take me back to the witches in MacBeth. That same eerie quality: bloodshot/gunshot/taproot/eye. What do I make of this chant-like fragment? What do you make of it? How do the four words connect? What is it about them and courage?

As I read the incantory fragments I wonder if these are qualities she is highlighting as prevalent in life. And is a response to these, courage? Am I right. Not sure. But the response to the stress in bloodshot eyes, gunshots, taproot (family dynamics?) and eye, (how we see this disturbing and beautiful world) is that real courage?  Is that more a blind response to the obvious? Is that what she’s getting at?

Such a huge question, how will you spend your courage? And what will be the currency? She says no bloodshot/gunshot/taproot/eye and then links those four words to our minds making their slow way through the world. How else to do it.

And what do I make of her answer/injunction, Then, respond to the day some other way than blind— in the second poem after she asks her last question: How will you make your way in the world? Is there blind courage, instinctive, involuntary? And is there a seeing courage. More considered, thoughtful, practiced? And was she, by chance, thinking of Jack Gilbert’s great poetic essay of a poem, The Abnormal Is Not courage? I will have more to say about Gilbert’s poem in Part Two of this series on courage.

I am left with this. How will I spend my courage? Not will I spend it. But how will I spend it.  On what and with what? One response: I will spend it on reaching out to friends with kindness. And strangers, no matter my mood. A gentle courage. And not blind eyes but my unusual eyes as John O’Donohue says. The ones that truly see.

Coming up, part two of this series, Jack Gilbert and part three Jan Zwicky, all on courage!

 

 

 

A Reflection for Remembrance Day – Three Poets – Owen, Crozier and Amichai

The Sacrifice of Issac by Caravaggio. Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isac the first born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When Lo! An angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not they hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in the thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son, –
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) from Poets.org

Some poetic medicine on a day when we remember the end of World War I and also all wars, their devastations. And why today more than ever we must remember – war is not the easy answer!

Owen’s poem! This poem sears me every time I read it. Its horrific last two lines. And it is gender specific. The men who call us to war. Often, old men. How Wilfred Owen takes the myth of Abram and Isaac and makes it a metaphor of the old men who sacrifice the young men in war. No sticks carrying jubilance, just grenades, carrying death.

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Fierce Grace – The Debut Poetry Collection of Susan Alexander

Canadian poet Susan Alexander

PRAYER

Unexpected day, cold and grey.
Only the daffodils like fallen shards of sun
glow among the ferns.

Wide-eyed at the lawn’s edge,
they coax us out of doors.

We come barefoot in wet grass,
hugging ourselves in thin pajamas.

Who has not seen
their green shoots pierce thin snow?

I don’t have within me what
makes then grow.

Susan Alexander from THE DANCE FLOOR TILTS, Thistledown Press, 2017

For me, a unique blog post. To feature a debut poetry collection where, in a number of the poems, I am the “you”, Susan Alexander’s wasband, former spouse. A tender thing, poignant, to read parts of my story through someone else’s words. For Susan that happened a year ago with my debut poetry collection Hyaena Season. Now my turn with The Dance Floor Tilts. To watch the life of someone I knew so well for more than twenty years, come so alive in her words feels like fierce grace. Yes, even a privilege. And yes, a sting of sadness, too, for a shared dream that died. Feeling again the wounded places. But somehow in the writing and receiving, something healing.

Prayer, the epigraph poem for this post comes from the book’s last section: Ministers of Grace, a series that includes  many poems I can just as easily call prayers, even if unlike Prayer, they are not titled as such. This section feels like such  a released breath. A celebration of  deep spiritual honesty and in that, a homecoming.

I hear wonderful echoes in this section of  other poems, always a delight. In PRAYER I am reminded in the surprise of its last two lines, of Rumi’s poem What Was Said to the Rose. And in her poem GREEN SEA, these lines – When I lose sight/ of my angels, as I do,/ as the day passes by,/ who is it that hides? – I hear a lovely echo of Levertov’s poem Flickering Mind.

It is not everyday that I get to answer a question posed to me in a poem! In the poem Muskoka Fall, the narrator asks: Do you remember the wind?/Waking up chilled under quilts/ in the screened in veranda?  Here is that poem and below it my response. Yes, I remember that wind and others!

Muskoka Fall

Those last years. Before your father died.
Before the stroke stopped your mother’s
careless tongue. Before your brother
tore down the paned casements
and cedar-lined rooms. A century lost in a day.
Before he set there something new, 
vinyl windows, aluminum siding.

                          Before this,
we would head to Lake Rousseau, witness
the silent fire capture the shoreline.
Do you remember the wind?
Waking up chilled under quilts
In the screened in veranda?
The table scattered with maple leaf stars?
A scarlet corona that set
our daughter’s hair aflame?

Tea served up in pink china
out-of-doors with the sky bluer against
its frame of gold and orange.

The end radiant around us.

Susan Alexander from THE DANCE FLOOR TILTS, Thistledown Press, 2017
There Was a King 
 
Do you remember the wind? 
Waking up chilled under quilts 
in the screened-in veranda? 
 
    — Susan Alexander 
 
Do you mean 
the wind – pneuma, ruach, God’s 
holy wind? 
               Wind, the Red Sea 
shrank from, wind to blow 
locusts into Egypt, wind to sweep them away?  
 
Or do you mean 
the wind off the lake we heard 
through the screens? Cat wind, 
its nine lives, its purr, its howl,  
its pitter patter on the gray canvas floor, 
its thunderstorm caterwaul, its jump 
on the bed unprotected 
from wind’s whirl and roar.
 
Or do you mean another wind, 
nothing as soft as a cat, sharper 
than claws or teeth, a wind 
dressed in black, homburg tilted down 
over its face, shadow 
in the back of the eye, stiletto blade 
at our throats?
 
What I remember? I remember 
how it screamed, that wind 
at eight thousand feet, 
sun not yet up, 
you and me, the long view out 
from Mount Nemrut, 
"Nemrud Dagi" in Turkish, 
snow all around. The wind 
so fierce we leaned far into it, so far, it felt 
past any angle of repose, yet 
it held us up. There, alone, 
with Antioch I, the God King of Commagene, 
his funerary statues, some tall, looming, 
some in pieces, behind our backs and those
shattered echoes, we couldn’t remember
until we made it down
the mountain, the words
from Shelley’s poem – Ozymandias –
the ones we read out loud, later,
away from the ruins, the wind.

Richard Osler, unpublished, 2017

Obviously I am not an objective reviewer of Susan’s collection but, for me, the poems there are finely crafted and brave. A great debut. I recommend it.

Poems by Kaur, McCarthy and Maylor but First: Instagram Poets Seem to Rule – Will It Last?

Indo-Canadian Poet Rupi Kaur. Photo Credit: Cut.

from home

it takes a broken person to come searching
for meaning between my legs
it takes a complete.whole. perfectly designed
person to survive it...

Rupi Kaur from the sun and her flowers, Simon & Schuster, 2017

To call twenty-five year old Indo-Canadian poet Rupi Kaur a sensation is an understatement! Her book of poems, milk and honey has sold at least 1.4 mm copies in about three years. Unheard of in poetry! And her second book, the sun and her flowers, just came out, published by Simon and Schuster. I profiled Kaur a year ago. To read that post, please click here. To read a recent feature interview with Kaur in the Cut please click here.

I discovered, thanks to Kaur, a new type of poet, an Instagram poet. According to the U.K.-based Guardian (For the Oct. 2nd and Oct. 4th Guardian articles on Kaur please click here and  here) she is the most popular. There are others, notably Nayyirah Waheed, author of the 2013 collection salt.

The Guardian includes Kaur, Waheed  and other authors, Warsan Shire, Yrsa Daley-Ward and Amanda Lovelace as examples of poets writing in a style that blends the spontaneity and rawness of a teenage girl’s Tumblr with the poise and profundity of lyric poetry. These authors write about shared themes: anger at how the world treats young women, especially women of colour; defiance in the face of dismissal; celebrations of modern femininity.

Kaur’s extraordinary popularity, especially with her short poems accompanied with her own illustrations, tells me the desire for poetry has not vanished. But it’s not a desire that shows up in what I would call a more conventional poetry, not of the Instagram variey, whose poetry also carries great poise and profundity!

I am thinking of two Canadian poets, also women, who published books this year. Micheline Maylor and Julia McCarthy. Their poetry, rich and complex, dealing with themes also of love, loss and impermanence, will most likely sell a mere fraction of what Kaur has sold to date let alone what her new book may sell. I include samples of their poems below.  But I wonder, are we encountering a true sea change in poetry or a temporary change in wind and currents?

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Who Invented Meanness? A Poem and Review of Hyaena Season

My 2016 poetry collection published by Quattro Books, Toronto

Lost Inside Henry VIII’s Chapel

Finally, I find you, my little one, on your knees,
before an altar, penitent, pilgrim – your palms pressed close as pages.
I drop down beside you, my palms mimicking yours.
I don’t say anything out loud.
To whom were you praying? To whom can I pray?  Is it
ever the same? The stone walls around us make us small.
None of that matters. Just you, my six-year old, my daughter,
already learning how to bend, already old enough to have asked
who invented meanness? Perhaps too much knowing makes us older.
But now all I know is how my heart beats outside of itself,
how my knees gave way
with practiced discipline, when I dropped
into place beside you.

Richard Osler from Hyaena Season, Quattro Book, 2016

I have made a point over the years of not featuring my own poems in my blog posts except in a few occasions. This is another one of those. This time to feature a poem from my full-length poetry collection Hyaena Season published last year. The reason: because it is one of the poems featured in a recent review of  my book in a blog posted on October 3rd in Image Journal’s Good Letters blog by author, anthologist and long-time Image contributor, Peggy Rosenthal. To see the review please scroll down or click the link above.

I have lots of gratitude for Seattle-based Image Journal now in its 29th year of publication. This quarterly journal, self described as a journal of of Art, Faith and Mystery is the brain and heart child of its publisher and editor,  Greg Wolfe. It was through  Wolfe, who encouraged me to attend Image’s annual Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, that I began my journey to learn the art and craft of poetry as a participant in poet Julia Kasdorf’s writing workshop. Since then I have learned so much through other poets (where does Greg find them?)  at the Glen including Greg Orr, Li-Young Lee, Scott Cairns, Jeanine Hathaway, Margaret Gibson and Pete Fairchild.

And I have great thanks for Peggy Rosenthal whom I met years ago at the Glen. It was from Peggy I first heard the expression poetry as prayer which inspired me to lead my poetry as prayer retreats in the U.S. and Canada. And it was through the Glen that I met the Episcopalian priests, Andy Parker and his wife Liz Welch Parker, who invited me to Surfside south of Houston to lead my first U.S. retreat and I will be going back down to Texas to lead these retreats for the ninth year in a few weeks. All life changing contacts.

It is not a huge exaggeration to say that without Image and the inspiration of the artists and writers that grace its pages, (I haven’t managed that yet!),  many of whom I have met at the Glen, I would not have been able to  write Hyaena Season. So to be reviewed by Peggy Rosenthal in Image’s Good Letters blog feels like a wonderful closing of a circle.

Here is Rosenthal’s review.

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Richard’s Sept. 24th Poetry Retreat – Duncan – Among Other Showings the Show Don’t Tell of Marie Howe!

American poet Marie Howe

Magdalene: The Woman Taken in Adultery

           Teacher, they said to Jesus, The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you
            say? –John 8:5

You know how it is when your speeding car spins on the ice at night

and you think here it is?

When the deer spring across the headlights?

When you begin to slip down the steep and icy steps?

Now imagine someone is going to push you, someone you know

and they don’t.


Marie Howe from Magdalene, W.W. Norton & Company, 2017

Back in the Spring I wrote a blog post on Marie Howe and her latest book Magdalene. Since then Marie and her book have had high profile coverage on the NPR radio program On Being and through a feature review in APR (The American Poetry Review) by her friend and fellow poet Spencer Reece, another favorite poet of mine. And in August, APR awarded Marie one of the two Jerome J. Shestack Prizes  for the finest groups of poems (Magdalene & Other Poems) published in the previous year of the magazine. For the On Being interview with Marie Howe and Krista Tippett please click here.

In my addictions recovery work I have been using a number of Marie’s Magdalene poems including four of the ten poems that won the Shestack prize. Talk about capturing the isness of addiction and of her most months of recovery.  These poems have helped many addicts I have worked with to feel they are not alone.  Tell tale gasps tell me the poems have struck home.

Today, for this post, I used as epigraph her poem: Magdalene: The Woman Taken in Adultery,  which is one of a number of poems in her new book based on stories in the Christian New Testament. What a stunning example of showing not telling which was the theme for today’s three-hour retreat organized by Chris Beryl (thanks Chris) for me in Duncan, here on Vancouver Island. We had a group of nine poets who, using I remember as a prompt, came up with one I remember memory and wrote a show don’t tell poem! I was privileged to hear the resulting poems.
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Writing the Ache for God – Announcing a Poetry-As-Prayer Retreat in Calgary

Writing the Ache for God – A Poetry-as-Prayer retreat in Calgary with Richard Osler

‘I feel, like Beckett, that all poetry is prayer.’

Carol Ann Duffy from an interview with Jeanette Winterson,  www.jeanettewinterson.com.

I have never separated the writing of poetry from prayer. I have grown up believing it is a vocation, a religious vocation.

Derek Walcott from The Paris ReviewThe Art of Poetry No. 37, 1986

I write not for the purpose of writing. It’s worship, I think. One’s function as a human being is to praise things, which means that you have to think into them enough that you see what the good is. And that thinking requires expression for some reason.”

Anne Carson from an Interview in The Globe and Mail (Toronto), September 14, 2000

Really, all poetry is a prayer, you have to go to the center place inside you, to write poetry.

Joy Harjo from an interview: Weaving Stories for Food in The Spiral of Memory, edited by Laura Coltelli, University of Michigan Press, 1996

I guess if one considers, as I do, the true purpose of poetry to be a contemplation of the divine—however you find it, or don’t find it—then it isn’t so strange that my work is so suffused with the stuff of religion. We take the vocabulary we are given—in my case, Christian—and use it to our own ends. We try to develop and expand what we are given.    

Charles Wright from The Paris Review, The Art of Poetry #41, Winter 1989

Above are some of the many quotes I have collected by contemporary poets supporting the idea of poetry as prayer! And for almost ten years now I have led poetry-as-prayer retreats In Victoria, Calgary, Houston and Surfside on the Texas Gulf Coast. In these retreats I have witnessed such an outpouring of poems/prayers.

I am pleased to announce an upcoming poetry-as-prayer retreat in Calgary:  the third annual Poetry as Prayer Retreat sponsored by  Hillhurst United Church, Calgary. It’s happening soon:

October 20 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm & October 21 9:00 am to 3:30 pm
Registration fee: $85
Hillhurst United Church
1227 Kensington Close NW | Calgary
Register Now
Visit here::https://huc-richardoslerpoetry2017.eventbrite.com.  Or send your name, address,
telephone number and email address with registration fee (payable to Hillhurst United
Church) to 1227 Kensington Close NW, Calgary, AB T2N 3J6.

Here is what I say in the retreat brochure:

“You may not have written much for many years, you might have written but not poems or you might be an accomplished writer or poet. No matter what your writing experience come and join a group of fellow pilgrims on Oct. 20 and 21, 2017, and ask for poems as prayers to come out of the “great” heart of you. The heart under and over your heart. God’s heart. Through words, have that heart speak its words to you – of joy, of sorrow, of revelation. The surprise a poem is. The surprise prayers can be when we invite them; don’t dictate them. During this weekend retreat we will read poems – prayers – that celebrate, as Canadian poet Dennis Lee says, the miracle ache of the world. The ache that breaks and remakes us. And in that ache another ache: the one American poet Charles Wright calls the last ache in the ache for God.
Please consider this invitation and, if you accept it, bring all of who you think you are, your successes and losses, your ache for God, any sense
God is absent (that huge loss), and let your writing, as American essayist Melissa Pritchard says, address this loss, return you to the Beloved
[God] and to a sense of reunion with ourselves.”