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.”