there are so many new things at the moment which is fun! learning to love is a remarkable collection of poetry curated by chris goan. it's been a huge undertaking and has around 100 poets and 300 poems in it. it was a simple idea of chris' a while back and we put the word out that if there were poets interested in publishing to send proost poems. well that quickly became huge. but after sifting and organising, an amazing anthology is the result. i'm so grateful to chris and everyone who has contributed. lots of the poets are publishing for the first time in print i think. it's organised around themes such as protest or the world is broken or the far horizon. if you know any anthologies i guess it's closest in spirit to the series by neil astley - staying alive, being human.
anyway it's just come out on proost. it's available in the greenbelt bookshop. poets themselves can get copies if you know them. and you can order it direct through lulu.com . as ever it's also a pdf download through proost. but i have found that this kind of book i prefer to have a physical copy in my hand. i have actually read all through it twice now.
there is a slot each morning at 9am in the leaves venue at greenbelt to kick start the day of reflections by proost poets that chris is pulling together. do drop in to that.
as well as the contributers to this collection another exciting new thing is that poet harry baker has teamed up with musician chris read to create a 4 track ep but in silence. they are going under the name flock and the ep is available on proost. this is a really beautiful blend of prayerful spoken word artistry coupled with soulful music and song. it's called but in silence. i'll add the link here when it's up... but they will also be performing each morning in the proost poets slots.
i love poets! not just because one is in the family but there is something about this mode of speech that is poignant, direct, soulful, and somehow the language of prophets. when i'd read the anthology i was so inspired by the range of voices, the freedom of speech, the ability to say stuff that needs to be said but that somehow never makes it into sermons and worship songs. there is this undercurrent of voice that needs to be heard. i particularly love the section in the book called the far horizon... anyway have a look and see what you think!
harry is doing a series of ten videos on his observations of german culture and its nuances and differences with english. first up is a hilarious poem about felafels which moves between english and german in harry's usual word play trickery...
amazing to see he was name checked in this article in yesterday's guardian as a spoken word artist kanye west might aspire to be like!
chris has posted a series of 12 dispatches/short poems that he wrote and has posted on cliff tops at the start of such retreats. they are totally wonderful both for retreat and/or pilgrimage. the reason i have added them on pilgrimage is that i happen to have a series on the go for that and they seem to connect with the wild places and wild spirituality akin to the irish pilgrimage.
here's the first and go here to find all twelve...
There are rumours-
Like smoke signals blurred in desert wind
He is here
Not in metaphor
Not whipped up in the collective madness of charismata
Not just politely suggested by the high drama of religious ritual-
With mud on his shoes...
this statue of a pilgrim is at clonmacnoise in ireland. the site was at the crossroads of the east/west road and the shannon river i.e. bang in the middle of the trade routes. it was founded by st ciaron who only lived there for a year or so but a community was there for hundreds of years (and was ransacked over 40 times by various groups but somehow kept starting over again). this statue reminded me of the one i had seen on lindisfarne a couple of years ago - so powerful and evocative.
i have not done much pilgrimage. i have done plenty of retreats. but they are very different things. a retreat is space and silence and reflection and prayer. a pilgrimage (at least in a group) is conversation, journey, stories, exploration, laughter, prayer, community, place (and guiness!).
at the heart of this pilgrimage was a quest to try and connect with the wild spirit of irish christianity, and to be inspired by the stories and lives of some of the saints. we'd travel to the place, touch, taste, see, experience, imagine it, and hear the stories of the place. we'd have some of our own space at each place, and in several of the places would pray together and reflect on how the stories connected with our own stories. depending on how people like to process things conversations, journalling, group times, reading and some spiritual direction were all part of the mix.
i first came up with the idea for this trip when i read about michael mitton and russ parker's trip to wales a couple of years back. michael's poems caught my imagination and i felt there was something in the stories of the saints that resonated with me, and perhaps with pioneers today. michael and russ agreed to lead a trip for a group of us and so we benfitted so much from their experience and wisdom.
michael wrote a couple of new poems on this trip which he has added to his pages - i can't seem to link directly - so go to his site and click on books and select poems from the drop down menu. here's one of his new ones about sennach whose island we sailed round in a surging sea where we were graced with the site of the fins of a school of dolphins which was amazing
Sennach founded a monastery on the island of Illauntannig, just north of Castlegregory on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. Visitors to the island can still see the remains of the monastic community, including some beehive cells, a cross, church and burial ground. Access to the island is not easy!
Your hand that clutches the rim of your coracle
is the same that gently lifts its blessing
on your isle.
Such swells and currents don’t disturb you
for you dream them in your salty sleep.
You feel the surges of God in these waters
divine heaves and sighs
signs of the yearnings of God;
glimpses of the grace of God
in the fin of a passing dophin.
Is that why you set sail to this island
and built your tent from its rough earth?
I see you there, your blistered hand lifting dark stones
one upon the other
transforming these cold rocks into a vibrant home.
This your dysart, beckoning the surf of God
to break over the dry, dry land.
Oh Lord, when I settle too much on my mainland
take me back to these waters.
Let me feel again the movements of the great sea
the surgings of your restless heart.
Let me see the glittering surf
your life breaking through the waters my soul at last in tune with yours.
the feeling captured in the last verse is what i experienced on the pilgrimage - a longing and stirring for the same kind of wild spirit to be at work in me and indeed in cms pioneers and the church. we're tentatively planning another trip for pioneers next year. give me a shout if you are interested.
looking forward to seeing harry any hour now back from germany for christmas. he is doing one show in london while he is here as part of the bethlehem unwrapped festival. the whole festival looks great. but slammed up on 29 december is a night of spoken word featuring harry, disraeli and others. perfect for a night out after christmas. hope to see some of you there!!!
here's some blurb on the whole festival...
St James’s Piccadilly, London. December 23rd 2013 – January 5th 2014
Through music, food, art, poetry, debate and more Bethlehem Unwrapped goes behind the romanticised Christmas card images of the ancient city to show what life is like for people in Bethlehem today. The festival celebrates the culture and stories of those living behind the wall and their work for peace. Hope, humour and humanity are reflected throughout the programme, which brings together renowned musician and composerNigel Kennedy, chefs Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi, singer Reem Kelani, comediansMark Steel and Jeremy Hardy, activist and speaker Jeff Halper, actor Adjoa Andoh, film-maker Leila Sansour, video artist Larissa Sansour, writer and speaker Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, slam poets Harry Baker and Rafeef Ziadah and more.
Join us for the launch at 6pm on December 23rd for the unveiling of a major interactive art installation and find out about the rest of the exciting programme here.
love this piece by tina hodgett over at her blog and am making it worship trick 44 is series 4 (yes they are still going).
Life giver bread breaker storm sleeper blame taker
Scroll reader mask exposer sheep steerer wave treader
Temple razer truth wielder light exuder crowd amazer
Life enhancer, drinker, dancer
Cross bearer dazzle wearer law lover wine renewer
Story weaver, hurt healer, death drinker, God revealer
Lone lamb finder, Satan binder
Sight restorer, desert victor, sin forgiver, hymn singer
Morning pray-er, bondage breaker, bone straightener, peacemaker….
Bubbling up with joy river
Death defeater, grace ladler, never sinner, heart burner
Tempest husher, Spirit breather, show stealer, table turner…..
All the future in their eyes.
i got a text from jen reminding me it is international mens' day today - i can't say i knew or noticed any difference in the air but i thought harry's poem real men is as good a piece for today as i could think of...
- Faith/doubt Becoming
- The world is beautiful
- The world is broken
- Laughing out loud
- The far horizon
- Learning to love
thanks to bob carlton for the link to #4, a poem from empire remixed blog that begins like this.
comrades in the struggle for
the Party w/out a vanguard
the anarchic community of communities...
To reach satisfaction in all
desire satisfaction in nothing
To come to possess all
desire the possession of nothing
To arrive at being all
desire to be nothing
To come to the knowledge of all
desire the knowledge of nothing
these are words from john of the cross in a poem that we will be exploring at grace this saturday - see you there?!
jeremy woodham, a friend and colleague at cms, is also a bit of a wordsmith and poet. he is a member of the lounge, a small christian community in ealing, and was a member of vaux back in the day. he let slip yesterday that he has been quietly starting a blog - take back the poetry. there are already some wonderful pieces on there. it really is good! i love this piece we are all unequal and am adding it to the worship tricks series - no 30 series 4, but do go and have a scout round and add it to your reader. i'll definitely be revisiting. try supper stories and lord's prayer for example...
We come together
because things are not right
because we don’t know what to make of the world
because we are bewildered
because we need shelter
We come together
because peace has not come
because your kingdom is a long time coming
because your will is hardly clear
and yet brutally clear
because we are threatened on all sides
because we have lost our way
We come together
because we notice the gap
between who we know we are
and who we want to be
and we feel giddy on its edge
We come together
because Jesus said, Come to me and I will give you rest
I will give you living water for your soul
I am the bread of life
because Jesus turned on the crowds
and had compassion on them
that wanted to be fed
We come together
to set the stage
to act as if it might be true
that we are loved
to love each other
to treat each other fairly
to see each other for who we really are
to allow others to see who we really are
with no shame and no fear
for we are all unequal
we are all disabled
we are all addicted
we are all dying
We come to pretend
that what we dream for tomorrow is true for today
that we live in a strange kingdom
where nobody is standard
nobody is predictable
nobody is average
nobody is unacceptable
nobody is judged
and nobody is judging themselves
where advertising does not standardise our dreams*
where our view is only filtered through God’s eyes
where instead of punishing each other for our own failings
we act with justice
love with mercy
and walk humbly with each other
and with our God
where the streams come from is a series of 3 poem soundscapes from chris goan out this month on proost. i love chris' poetry. check out listing and ten thousand places if you have not come across them. proost interview chris here and he has this to say about poets
For me, poetry is a spiritual act. It involves dwelling on something in a deep and even prayerful way. The process of constructing words that carry as much honesty, emotion and truth as I am able to bring to bear is at times painful, but mostly is a precious thing. The poems I like most carve a new path into something. They are full of sinew and not afraid to express the dark things - the doubt as well as the faith, the pain as well as the joy, the lament as well as the celebration. Poems like this make me cry (in a good way.) The people who write this kind of poetry often carry damage in some way. We are members of the awkward squad, outsiders who look from a different perspective. Poetry becomes one of the ways that those of us who have been sensitised can apply our sensitivity- a kind of gift.
michael mitton led a pligrimage over august to ireland and wales which provoked a rush of poetry which is up on his web site here. they are poems inspired by celtic saints ciaran, brendan, brigid, kevin, brynach, non, illtyd. they are absolutley delightful and very moving. i know mark berry is going to love this poem/prayer on brendan!! i am making the collection a worship trick. makes me want to go on this pilgrimage...
Brendan was as mad as a bear with toothache
But it was a madness you loved
And you took hold of that old bear
And threw him out to sea
'Til he returned to land with such a wild tale
That even the priests laughed themselves silly.
The people danced in the surf of Bantry Bay
And a thousand coracles set sail
Into the bright breeze of your Spirit.
O Lord madden me by that same Spirit
Bring on the God-blessed flights of fancy
Inebriate me with Holy Ghost visions
And set me free to behold with the eyes of my heart
Great wonders on the high seas of God.
"one of the greatest things i've ever seen" - that's how harry's show proper pop-up purple paper people was described on radio one ths afternoon and given a 5 star rating! who knows how but chris who picks out a show to review each day for scott mills landed at harry's venue and loved it (if you want to listen on iplayer it's about 1:23 in to the show). joel rang me as he was in the car and had radio one on at the time and was somewhat surprised to find harry being reviewed... the show is in a small basement at the royal oak so expect tomorrow to be packed!!!
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where i come across creative ideas, liturgies, movies, music tracks, service outlines or anything that strikes me, i add them as worship tricks. i started these in april 2002 when i first began blogging and they have built up over the years so that i am now on the third series. this has proved a pretty popular feature of the blog.