Silence and Poetry (Episode 18)
April 18, 2018
We love poetry — since poetry seems to quickly bring the attentive reader to the threshold of silence.
We love poetry — and we find that, of all literary forms, poetry seems to most quickly and assuredly bring the attentive reader to the threshold of silence.
"Poets all see silence as sacred ground," notes Kevin, "because it's from the silence the poems come." Together we muse on how poetry puts us in touch with our bodies, our intuition, and how the relationship between poetry and silence is, perhaps, just the same as the relationship between silence and sound that forms the foundation of music.
Much like musicians use notes, poets are the composers of words. They pay such attention to the space between. More then we do in typical writing, typical everyday language, they heed the mystery, they listen to the offbeat, and they use it. They know how to harness it, they know how to hold it open-handed... it's I would dare to say closer to silence then any other writing is. — Cassidy Hall
Because we are all "poetry geeks" pretty much just as much as we are "silence geeks," we joke that trying to create a podcast about poetry should take us 200 hours (or more). So this week's episode is just a check-in, a snapshot of where our journey with poetry has taken us at least for now.
From Mary Oliver's earthy reflection written in response to a cancer diagnosis, to Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska's playful consideration of how the experience of the mind or soul has an "embodied" or "natural" dimension, to the more ethereal or even transcendent perspective of Evelyn Underhill, the poems we consider in this episode dance between matter and spirit, between consciousness and mystery, between wonder and doubt and insight. And while none of these poems are specifically "about" silence, they all usher us into that place where word and silence kiss.
Silence is embodied, and yet silence is paradoxically also immaterial... To encounter silence implies materiality. — Carl McColman
Some of the poets, authors and resources mentioned in this episode:
Mary Oliver, Devotions
Thomas Merton, Collected Poems
Irene Zimmerman, Incarnation
Mary Oliver, Thirst
Mary Oliver, Blue Horses
John Keats, Complete Poems
Wisława Szymborska, Map: Collected and Last Poems
Karl Rahner, Foundations of Christian Faith
Thomas Aquinas, Selected Writings
Evelyn Underhill, Immanence
Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions
Maggie Ross, The Fire of Your Life
Patrick Shen (dir.), In Pursuit of Silence
Jan Richardson, Circle of Grace
John O'Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us
Willis Barnstone, tr., The Poems of Jesus Christ
Bonnie Thurston, Practicing Silence
May Sarton, Halfway to Silence
May Sarton, The Silence Now
Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates
Edna St. Vincent Millay, Collected Poems
Rumi, The Essential Rumi
Silence isn't a fleeing from the world, it's a fleeing to the world. It's actually getting out of your ideas about the world, and actually showing up and being present in the world. — Kevin Johnson
Episode 18: Silence and Poetry
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Date Recorded: April 10, 2018